COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is scheduled to vote Nov. 27 on a resolution calling for a 2013 special purpose local option sales tax referendum that could generate $75 million.
According to the resolution presented to the board at Tuesday night's work session, proceeds from the five-year 1 percent sales tax would be used for capital projects, including a new high school, and to pay the principal and interest on bonds issued for education for the five years that the SPLOST is collected -- 2015 through 2019.
The 2013 SPLOST would be an extension of the SPLOST that was approved by voters in 2007 and expires in two years. If approved, it will be the third extension of the education SPLOST.
According to Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter, the resolution calls for a vote on the SPLOST on March 19, which would be the latest date to approve the referendum in order to avoid a break in collection of the tax.
Carpenter said the 2013 SPLOST would provide some tax relief for property owners by eliminating the school system's debt service millage for the five years the SPLOST is collected.
"I think that will appeal to a lot of people," he said.
Taxpayers in Newton currently pay 1.90 mills for debt service for school bonds. If the SPLOST is approved, $30 million of the SPLOST revenue will be used to pay the principal and interest on bond debt coming due on Feb. 2, 2014 through Aug. 2, 2020.
"There will still be bonds outstanding for fiscal years 2021 through 2025," said Superintendent Gary Mathews in an email response to questions on Wednesday. "The bonds were issued to build Flint Hill Elementary, Newton College and Career Academy and the new Newton High School."
Mathews said $45 million in SPLOST funds will be used to build a replacement high school for Eastside High and for other capital projects. According to the NCSS facilities plan, the Eastside building eventually is expected to transform into the system's theme school for kindergarten through eighth grades; a parent-involvement theme school for kindergarten through sixth grades currently is housed in the old Ficquett Elementary building.
"Preliminary lists of projects have been put together by the maintenance, transportation and technology departments," according to Mathews. "There are various maintenance and technology needs throughout the school system, and each year the administration and the board will prioritize the projects and budget the SPLOST funds for the upcoming fiscal year. If enrollment begins to increase, the board and administration may elect to make additions to existing schools depending on which part of the county the growth occurs."
Because a portion of the Social Circle City School District is in Newton County, the Social Circle Board of Education will have to also call for the SPLOST referendum in order for it to go before the voters. Social Circle would receive $250,000 for capital projects if the SPLOST is approved.
Carpenter said the resolution is expected to be presented to the Social Circle BOE in December.
Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this report.