Oconee County voters head to the polls next Tuesday, Nov. 8, to decide whether the collection of a 1-cent sales tax for education should continue. The fourth education special-purpose, local-option sales tax would fund facility improvements and technology upgrades.
The School Board has compiled a list of projects that would be funded with the tax.
Without the continuation of E-SPLOST, the only sources of funding are the General Fund and a small percentage of state capital outlay funds alloted for specific projects, he says.
"The board has maintained the current local property tax millage rate throughout the economic decline and desires to do so in the future," he writes. "An E-SPLOST defeat would create some very difficult challenges for the school system to maintain our buildings and support our strong academic record," he writes.
If approved by voters, E-SPLOST IV is expected to generate $25 million in revenue over the five-year period of collection beginning January 1, 2013. The Board could choose to borrow up to half, or $13.5 million, as soon as the referendum passes.
Jackson describes this as a "very conservative approach."
"If the board chooses to sell bonds, the projected interest rate (repayment) is in the one-two percent range."
Additionally, the projects could stimulate the local economy by providing work for area contractors, he says.
Though the collection of E-SPLOST IV wouldn't begin until January 2013, Jackson says there is a reason the Board opted to take it to voters this November.
The state only gives the options of November or April for school systems to place this type of referendum on the ballot, Jackson explains, adding that by choosing the fall date, much-needed projects could be addressed sooner. The board hopes to take advantage of more favorable interest rates as well, he says.
Early voting continues at the Oconee County Board of Elections Office through Friday, Nov. 4. On Tuesday, voters may cast ballots at their assigned polling places from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Do you support the renewal of E-SPLOST?