County and city discuss police merger agreement - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

County and city discuss police merger agreement

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Chatham County Commissioners are speaking out about the need to renegotiate the police merger agreement with Savannah.

The topic first came up at Wednesday's SCMPD Public Policy Committee meeting. This discussion relates to how the costs should be divided up between the county and the city for the police department.

The city says it recognizes the need to revisit the police merger agreement because of changing populations.

"The existing merger agreement states that the cost share is based on population and with the 2010 census there was some shifts in population and we attempt to reconcile on an annual basis and theres still some issues outstanding that we really need to move forward with," said City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

On the other hand, the county tells WTOC that the crime rate needs to be factored into the cost allocation procedures.

The county says the costs to police the unincorporated areas of Chatham County are skyrocketing, even though according to the county, the crime rate in those areas are significantly lower than in Savannah. County Commissioner Dean Kicklighter says it doesn't cost as much to police those lower crime rate areas. Therefore they shouldn't have to pay as much and this needs to be factored into the agreement.

"What the public doesn't understand is you have about 85 thousand people living in Chatham County that is not in any of our cities subsidizing the crime fighting costs for the citizens of Savannah. It wasn't fair when it took place, the way it was structured, and its not fair now," said Kicklighter.

Kicklighter says he was the only one to vote against the merger when it first took place. There is no word yet on when the county or the city will revisit the issue.

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