SAVANNAH, Ga. – A study that’s been underway for more than a year is finally in the City of Savannah’s hands. It reviews how Metro Police are protecting us, but now the bill for that protection is due.
That data report revealed Chatham County owes Savannah more than $7 million, which county officials know.
Now the city expects everyone involved to hold up their end of the deal.
“The city entered this current agreement in good faith and expects all to live up to their end of the bargain,” Eddie DeLoach, the Savannah Mayor, said. “When it was said and done whoever owed who would pay. It’s time to pay.”
DeLoach is talking about the results from the Berkshire study on Metro’s Policing Services. That report shows a cost sharing formula with Chatham County owing the city a huge lump sum of money.
“Our fiscal year ’16 and our fiscal year ’17 (shows) the county owes somewhere in excess of $7.1 million for us to provide services in the unincorporated,” Rob Hernandez, the Savannah City Manager, said.
But recently, the Chatham County Commissioner of District 7, Dean Kicklighter, had a different viewpoint saying the controversial report was flawed and that county is being asked to pay for protection it doesn’t really receive.
“It just did not come back remotely close. We don’t even have that number of officers that we just need patrolling the unincorporated areas and if we had that it would be millions less, ” Kicklighter said.
That’s not how the city feels according to the data.
“In reality the numbers pretty well speak for themselves and there’s not a lot of wiggle room,” DeLoach said. “I won’t say there’s not. I’ll leave that to the city manager and the county manager and their staff to figure that out.
Regardless, city officials said it’s time to pay the bill.
“I think that the county has a deadline because they have to get a budget put together, so it’s up to them to make the call on how they go about getting this done,” DeLoach said.
In order to continue receiving services the City of Savannah provides.
“At any rate we need to have agreements in place for all communities that receive 911 services and dispatch services from our center,” Hernandez said. “That’s required by state law if you are charging the 911 fee.”
County officials would be forced to raise taxes if they pay the monies owed.
“The public wants a safer community,” DeLoach said. “It needs a safer community. It deserves a safer community.”
News 3 has reached out to the county for a response and are waiting to hear back.