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SAVANNAH AREA CHAMBER of COMMERCE 101 East Bay Street | Savannah, GA 31401 | PO, Box 1628 (31402-1628) SavannahChambercom | 912.644.6400 SAVANNAH Rate nn January 15, 2015 Chairman Albert Scott, Chatham County ‘Chatham County Commissioners Chatham County Manager, Lee Smith ‘Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson Savannah City Alderman ‘Savannah City Manager, Stephanie Cutter City Attorney, Brooks Stilwell County Attomey, R. Jonathan Hart Dear Officials: Earlier this morning, the great majority of our Chamber Board of Directors’ meeting was dedicated to discussions about the future of our community's police merger. This follows a number of prior meetings and discussions, such as our CEO Council meeting in October with the Mayor and Chairman presenting, and our January 7" meeting with the City and County Managers, as well as the SCMPD Chief. We understand this is a complex topic with important issues ranging from control/authority to cost sharing, and most importantly, the service of public safety to our County citizens. However, despite the complexities, our membership of the business community is very disappointed in the current stage of events. To us, it appears over many months (some may argue years), these issues have not been solved and now we find our community on the threshold of disbanding the merger, something we do not believe is in our community's best interest. To be clear, we believe the consolidated police department is the best way to serve our county and city residents, the businesses, and our visitors. Citizen and visitor travel patterns do not honor the arbitrary governmental boarders we know as the City and ‘Special Service District (SSD). Crime does not follow those borders either. Greater divisions are the exact opposite of a greatly needed regional vision and regional cooperation, in our opinion In many separate conversations, it appears to us that some of our officials are giving up or accepting failure in the all too long effort to reach a workable compromise on the merger issues. Establishing blame will not help the cause or accelerate solutions, in our opinion Because of the extreme importance of this issue to our community, and because there are obvious frustrations from both City and County officials on this subject, we would like to offer to secure/pay for an independent third party mediator, who may better hear the parties and positions, and who would work to help both the City and County leadership to develop a common plan and direction that will truly benefit the community and will improve our police force and citizens safety. This seems to have helped with the County/City LOST negotiations, and in our opinion nothing ventured nothing gained. VisitSavannah * Ambassadors Council * CEO Council Forward Savannah Task Force * Governmental Affairs Council Greater Savannah Sports Council * LaunchSAVANNAH - Leadership Savannah * Manufacturers Council= Military Affairs Council ‘Owners Couneil* PR Council Small Business Council Trustees Council» Tybee Island Tourism Councils Workforce Development Council City and County Officials January 15, 2015 Page 2 Input and comments from our business members have been heavier than most any topic we have seen in recent years. Prevailing themes to the input we have received include comments such as: + Why can't these few elected officials get along? « ... ittcan't be that complex that they can’t reach middle ground «why don't they understand what this will do to our attractiveness for citizens, existing and new businesses and visitors alike .... ¢ ... arguing over a few million dollars is small compared to the long-term economic and job growth being put at risk Please re-energize yourselves and dedicate yourselves to finding common ground and keep the merger intact. We stand ready to help and look forward to working with you in whatever productive way we can. Willianh WW. Hubba President and CEO Ce: Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors