Local Option Sales Tax distribution deal reached - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

LOST distribution deal reached

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Chatham County and cities reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to distribute an estimated $630 million.

The 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax funds critical services such as police and park maintenance. By law, the distribution formula must be renegotiated every 10 years.   

Wednesday's agreement calls for an immediate increase of Chatham County's share of LOST revenue from 17.8 percent to 22 percent. In 2014, the county's share would increase to 23 percent, according to the city of Savannah. The remainder would be divided among the eight municipalities of Chatham County.

Daily incarceration fees the county charges municipalities for housing municipal inmates awaiting trial in the Chatham County Detention Center would also be eliminated.

The Chatham County Commission and Savannah City Council still must approve the agreement.

"This is the best possible resolution we could reach at this time," County Chairman Al Scott said in a statement. "It was obvious from day one that the judge felt the County offer was too high and the cities' offer was too low, and he wanted us to come together to find common ground. Both sides gave up much during this process, but that is the nature of negotiation. Now is the time for all of us to work together and improve government for all of our residents."

The county and the cities started formal arbitration hearings in Chatham County Superior Court on Monday. After a day of testimony, the county and cities began settlement talks to reach an agreement.

The final tentative agreement was read in court just after 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to the city.

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