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What is LOST?

Local Option Sales Tax.
Lost is a 1% joint sales tax between the Chatham County government and the cities within Chatham County. Lost is used to reduce the amount of property taxes needed to fund the budgets for these governments. LOST is not an additional source of revenue for the government.
What does LOST cover?
Services. Certain services are required by the law and must be provided by the County. These services are provided to every resident of the County and can ONLY be offered by the County. LOST helps to reduce the amount every tax payer has to pay for these services. LOST funds come from the sales tax and anyone who spends within Chatham County contributes to the LOST funds. Even visitors to the County contribute to the fund! Currently, Chatham County only receives 23% of the LOST distribution. The cities are receiving 77%. This means the County taxpayer only has 9.59% of their tax burden covered, while those in the Cities have 38.89% covered.

Graph of Georgia Counties LOST distribution.

If Chatham County received a larger percentage of LOST it would reduce the amount paid by ALL taxpayers to provide required County services. Only Chatham County can provide a COUNTY-WIDE rollback of taxes from LOST. Municipalities receiving LOST funds can provide an additional tax rollback. Cities cannot rollback the entire county, they can only rollback for their city. Meaning, the tax burden is greater for County taxpayers. New negotiations for LOST distribution between the County and the Cities happen after every Census. Currently, cities are only proposing 14% of LOST go to the County. Meaning less of a rollback for ALL residents than the existing distribution formula of 23%. This offer excludes almost 17% of the Chatham County population, while INCREASING the tax burden of 31.17% of the population.

Graph of population of whole county vs. cities

Chatham County's equitable share is 50% as the County serves and provides services to all residents. The proposed change to LOST will not add or reduce and current service levels, it only changes the share of the cost paid by taxpayers. Allowing the benefits to be more evenly distributed. Services provided are broken down in the section below.