The special called election for the renewal of Decatur County’s ESPLOST is today until 7:00 p.m.
The ESPLOST is an existing one penny sales tax that funds capital projects for the Decatur County School Systems such as the construction or remodel of school buildings, technology purchases, school buses and more.
“The EPLOST is very important to Decatur County Schools. It allows the School System to maintain its buildings, transportation vehicles, technology equipment and other equipment without having to raise the local tax rate for property owners. The ESPLOST spreads the cost out to all citizens that spend money in Decatur County along with all of the visitors that shop and eat as they visit and pass through our community.” — Tim Cochran, Decatur County Schools Superintendent (Post Searchlight)
Bainbridge High School was originally constructed through the issuance of bonds that are serviced by the ESPLOST – in other words, the construction was financed and guaranteed by the penny sales tax – if the tax is not renewed, the payments would still have to be made and could result in a property tax increase for Decatur County residents.
The last three schools built in Decatur County—West Bainbridge, Jones-Wheat and Bainbridge High School—were all built by using ESPLOST dollars exclusively. No property tax money was used to construct those buildings. When the high school was built its cost was spread out over several ESPLOST cycles because of the higher cost involved with building a high school. That debt for the high school construction is in the form of bonds. If the ESPLOST fails on March 21, it would take a property tax increase of at least 2 mills for five years just to cover the existing bond debt. — Tim Cochran (Post Searchlight)
On the Sack Lunch Show last week, Superintendent Cochran stated that the renewal was paramount to the school system to ensure that students graduating were afforded the best opportunity for success possible. “This tax is critical to the success of our students. It is an existing tax, nothing new, and this election is simply the renewal of the one penny we’re already paying.”
All nine Decatur County voting precincts are open today until 7:00 p.m. If you have questions about which precinct you are registered to vote in, please go to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page at https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do, or call the Elections Office at 229-243-2087.
The language on the ballot is below:
“Shall a special 1 percent sales and use tax for education be reimposed in the Decatur County School District for a period of time not to exceed 20 calendar quarters for the raising of not more than $30,000,000 for the purpose of (a) paying debt service on the Decatur County School Building Authority Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2015 commencing on October 1, 2017 through October 1, 2022 and (b) funding the following capital outlay projects: (i) acquiring, constructing, repairing, improving, rehabilitating, renovating, extending, retrofitting, upgrading, and equipping buildings and facilities in the Decatur County School District useful or desirable in connection therewith, including any necessary property therefore, both real and personal, to include HVAC upgrades, new roof systems, security, safety and communication upgrades, parking and sidewalk renovations and upgrades including renovating and equipping West Bainbridge Middle School for administrative services; (ii) planning for new School District site acquisition, site development and construction; (iii) purchase and installation of technology devices (to include computers, servers, printers, projectors, cabling, wireless access points, and Voice Over IP); (iv) acquiring and installing systemwide software to support instructional initiatives and improvements, finance, safety and operations; (v) purchase and installation of school nutrition equipment; (vi) acquisition of school buses, transportation and maintenance vehicles and equipment; (vii) acquisition of textbooks, ebooks, digital media and library books; (viii) acquisition of band/music, fine arts, vocational, and physical education/athletic equipment; (ix) demolition of existing facilities; (x) acquiring and installing all other necessary property therefore, both real and personal (the “Projects”); (xi) paying capitalized interest; and (xii) paying expenses incident to accomplishing the foregoing at a maximum cost of $30,000,000?
“If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of the Decatur County School District in the principal amount of up to $10,000,000, repayable from the proceeds of the aforesaid sales and use tax, for the purpose of funding such portions of the Projects as may be acquired, constructed and equipped with the proceeds of general obligation debt.”