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SPLOST could purchase safety equipment, help property taxes

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System has released more information concerning the upcoming education SPLOST election.

Voters will head to the polls March 19 to decide if they want to extend the existing 1 percent tax for education for a five-year period from 2015-2019. It would be the fourth round of an education SPLOST for the county that started in May 2007.

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews noted during his community forum this week that the SPLOST would provide funds for property tax relief, school security and technology, student transportation, and school maintenance.

Mathews said new buildings and additions must be built on an as-needed basis based on growth with adjacent state funding, as has been done in the past. He said only a new high school would be warranted by enrollment, even though the system’s facilities plan calls for a new Eastside High School in order to move the parent-involvement theme school from the Ficquett Elementary School building into the current Eastside building.

If warranted, the system could begin construction on a replacement high school or make additions to current buildings for more than $3 million with SPLOST funds, which would have to be supported by state capital funds, too.

Mathews said Newton County property owners pay 1.9 mills in debt service, which pays off bonds on such schools as Flint Hill Elementary School, the Newton College & Career Academy and Newton High School.

If SPLOST is approved, that figure would be cut to zero for five years, allowing for $30 million in school bond property tax relief.

SPLOST also could provide nearly $4 million for school security. Mathews has noted that a Viewpath S.A.F.E. camera, audio and silent alarm system for every classroom at every school would cost $3.85 million. The system is being piloted in 20 classrooms at Newton High School.

If SPLOST is approved, school technology would include $17 million worth of computers and printers, infrastructure upgrades, interactive equipment and software for all schools. School maintenance would include more than $11 million worth of systemwide roofing, paving, electric upgrades and HVAC renovations.

The system also could purchase about 75 buses for nearly $10 million.

Mathews said without SPLOST purchasing and payments, the funding for the items would have to come from the general fund, which pays for salaries and supplies and already has experienced $26 million in cuts over the past several years. The system’s maintenance and operations millage rate is maxed out at the 20-mill limit, so the system cannot legally raise it to collect more taxes.

“The general fund cannot support further erosion,” Mathews said.

He said past SPLOST funds have allowed the system to purchase technology, maintain buildings, purchase new school buses and pay off school bus leases in the amount of about $6.7 million.

The current SPLOST ends in December 2014. The system cannot use bonds or SPLOST funds for operating expenses such as salaries and benefits, textbooks, utilities and fuel.

Comments

eyewitness 1 year, 2 months ago

It does not provide teacher pay to help our teachers? Then I vote NO.

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ThePublicGood 1 year, 1 month ago

No it provides NO PAY for teachers who need it the most. We must cut central office jobs and pay over 80K.

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MamaTurd 1 year, 2 months ago

Who ever votes for this is insane.

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dennistay53 1 year, 2 months ago

Nothing to stop them from borrowing and bonding more debt for new schools being built. So you may pay off the 30 million and 1,9 mills while accumalating much more debt behind this. Wonder if the board will agree to end ALL BOND DEBT as long as SPLOST is in effect. Betting they won't

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silentnight 1 year, 2 months ago

Please everyone, vote "NO" to Splost!! Newton county is getting enough of our money as it is and wasting it. Everyone in this county pays enough school tax as it is! The splost money is not used like they say it will be! Wake up people and vote "NO"!!

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amp72 1 year, 2 months ago

They'll pull out all the stops, appealing to peoples' fears about school safety in order to try to get this thing passed. If they didn't waste so much money and screw almost everything up we wouldn't need to do all of this.

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Newtownqq 1 year, 2 months ago

Could the SPLOST be used to Buy Out contracts? Hey dennistay53 the BOC said no bonds or loaning money for SPLOST. Yet they are taking $21 Million in new loans for Bear Creek, hold your reps accountable!

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dennistay53 1 year, 2 months ago

They added this 30 million to payoff bond debt because they have no other way to pay this debt off short of cuts. They can't get the money from the operation and maintenance because that is maxed out. They can't get it from an increase in the tax base because that's not going to happen for a while under this poor economy. So don't buy into it when they say they are doing it to give a break to the property owners. If they cared about the property taxpayers of Newton County we wouldn't be running at a maxed out 20 mil. They could get some of it by cutting executive salaries and expenses but how dare you to ask this board to do that while they are giving away $70,000 to two quitting executives and $38,000 for this special election that could have been held last Nov during Presidential election.

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henrystamm 1 year, 2 months ago

No they never save anything. Just more obama patented lies by the tax and spender crooks.

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RetiredGuy 1 year, 2 months ago

Obama has nothing whatsoever to do with County issues. Nice try but it didn't work.

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

Retired Guy, Henrystamm did not say Obama had anything to do with it but hed did say these are like the "obama patented lies". You know kinda' like call all refrigerators a Frigidare. Please fully understand a comment before you respond otherwise your "slip might be showing"

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dennistay53 1 year, 2 months ago

I will be speaking at a forum on March 5 giving my reasons why SPLOST should be voted down. Mr Stone is supposed to be there telling his side. Please message me for information if you Really do want to be a part of letting your voice be heard,

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

Let me know when (time) & where.

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dennistay53 1 year, 2 months ago

It will be at the Newton Library 6 to 8 on March 5. Once the ones holding the forum comes out with this i will let you know who's putting it on.

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livingart 1 year, 2 months ago

Agree, agree, agree. We pay the highest SCHOOL taxes in the state, but have less educated children. NO more money from me. If I could give less, as a Senior Citizen - I would immediately. Do not fall for this farce.....

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RetiredGuy 1 year, 2 months ago

School systems are run using real estate taxes, or are supposed to be. Real estate taxes are deductible on State and Federal tax returns. SPLOST is just more sales taxes which are not deductible if you want to itemize your State income taxes. If the schools really and honestly need more money it should be from real estate taxes.

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

You might want to poll the property owners - right now we are at the Max allowable millage level. Those that don't pay property taxes will probably agree with you.

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dennistay53 1 year, 2 months ago

Agree with you John. But there is a way they can get around the 20 millage operation and maintence tax. That would be to have another election to have the cap raised. If the voters approved it they could raise the cap. ( see Rockdale about 23 Mills) I predict that if the Splost is approved that they will come back with this after year and half and try to raise this as a way of staffing their new schools since that can't be done with SPLOST. We have to wait 5 years to get rid of a SPLOST but they only have to wait year and half to bring another tax increase to the voters. That;s the reason we need to stop this now. Don't think they can't keep taxing us out of house and home even with a cap.

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MamaTurd 1 year, 2 months ago

That's why we need to vote no shoot it down. It's always money money.

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Bemused 1 year, 2 months ago

Reading these comments, it has become painfully apparent that most of you have no concept of how your local government and governing boards actually work or how a SPLOST works. It is very clear what can and cannot be done with the money raised from a SPLOST. Also, this is just a continuation of what is currently in place. If you want your property taxes to go down while increasing the security in our local schools, this is a no-brainer. If you don't want to see teachers let go because there is no money to pay them - and please understand that in a state that doesn't value education and that has cut over $5 BILLION in the last decade, this will be the norm until you stop voting for fools that would rather line their pockets and those of their already richer than you ever will be backers - this again is a no-brainer.

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OnToday 1 year, 2 months ago

It's not a matterof understanding how local govt works, it's a matter of common sense and economics. People understand this is a vote to continue what has been happening but what has been happening is waste and corruption. Maybe if the Chamber would hit more home runs and work with local officials to attract business here so we could spend here the coffers wouldn't be empty. And maybe if the BOE and superintendent built trust in this community we would have a better attitude. If your child stopped doing chores would you continue to pay him? Of course not

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levelhead 1 year, 2 months ago

I know many people are against the SPLOST. But if we sit back and lok at the situation the SPOLOST can be a win for manu including the property owners and teachers. If SPLOST is passed then that is a one percent sales tax that all visitors to Newton CO. pay for not just the citizens of the county. How can this be a bad thing. When we go to Rockdale Co or Stonecrest we are paying a sales tax to fund things in these counties. The schools and commisioners are going to get what they want one way or the other, thus meaning taxes will be raised to fund what they need. Instead of just sitting back and complaining about how the school system has been lately I feel like we have started a new leaf with the exit of the Carpenders. If they have to cut from the general fund to fund construction or maintenance then teachers will pay the ultimate price. Is this really what we want to do just because we dont agree with how the schools have been handled as of lately. Look at how much they have saved us by the curtrent SPLOST that have been used and see how much you as a tax payer would have had to fund and not allow others who shop in our county to help pay the tab. Look at how much the school system would have suffered without the current SPLOST, how many teachers may have lost thier jobs. When we sit back and take a breath it makes more sense to let others help us pay for something that we will have to pay for in the long run.

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

Therein lies the problem. If SPLOST could be used ONLY to hire and keep good teachers and for armed security then it would probably be a no brainer. But it can't be used for those MOST important things. I have not heard anything about this board or school administration pushing the local state legistrator or State government to change SPLOST to be used for these MOST important things in a school system.

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covington300 1 year, 2 months ago

If you vote no you are voting yes for federal govt healthcare, food stamps, welfare for future generations...keep being short sides Newton County- keep this community ignorant and unemployable!

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1_player 1 year, 2 months ago

Soon there will be complaints about leaky roofs, old computers, and school security. Right?

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TheUpside 1 year, 2 months ago

All of this splost stuff was under the assumption that enrollment in NCSS would grow - it has not grown - NCSS is losing kids left and right. The system is going down in enrollment not up not too far now from the 18,000s nowhere near the 23K to 25K students they projected when wanting this SPLOST.

THis could have been planned in the Nov. 6th election and saved taxpayers 38K why did the NEWTON BOE not think of that or not do it? Wasteful at every turn they are.

And you don't need new schools especially high schools our seniors are the smallest class due to drop outs. I had someone tell me the other that kids are leaving Newton schools so if the new Newton High will hold 2500 students and the current Newton High only has 1800 there you have 700 seats you can use NO NEW SCHOOLS and NO SPLOST.

This is outrageous in these economic times or in any economic times.

And then there is the moral issue. You give away free 70K to quitters and then turn around in one week and ASK FOR MORE TAXPAYER MONEY? An outrage!!!!!!!

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

Very well put. Plus this SPLOST does nothing to hire and retain teachers because it can't be used for that. It does nothing to hire armed security because it can't be used for that. By the superintentant's own writing the Newton Board of Assessors does not expect an increase in tax base at least through the 2015- 2016 budget year. To me no tax base means no increase in homes no increase in school enrollment. If they care about teachers and employees then why is this the first place they cut, and not at the high paid executive level.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

dennisstay53, You are right about cutting the upper level position. For one is the number of Assistant Principals really needed at each school. Just reflecting back to when I attended a high school of about 1400 students (grades 10 thru 12), we had a Principal & one Assistant Principal. Junior High (7 thru 9) it was the same. Maybe staffing of adminstative personnel from top to bottom needs to be reviewed and modified based on real needs vs. conveninent needs.

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Thishonky 1 year, 2 months ago

I have heard at least twice Meadors ask to zero base the budget is no one else trying to zero base and start seeing what jobs can be done without and trimmed away? That would be a first step and show due diligence before asking us for one more penny. Does it take to much time for the precious board to do this?

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OnToday 1 year, 1 month ago

I think in order to do that the BOE must UNDERSTAND what that means. They don't, which is why no one agrees to zero base the budget. Someone earlier mentioned how it is clear no one here understands how local govt works. Well that begins with the BOE. Most of them don't know either. Next election we need people to start asking these questions. If they can't answer, don't vote for them.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Voting No for the SPLOT is also saying the Citiizens of Newton County are saying the NCSS/BOE funds has had too many recent examples of missmanagment of current funds with zero accountability - e.g. $500K mistake in an oversight for lighting for the New Newton HS & don't say it still was within budget etc. How about a saving some of the budget for a "rainy day" rather than pay for a planning error by someone that may not be qualifed to be a project manager. Before asking for more funding how about saying here is how we are going to correct these type of situations in the future and start implementing the next day. One of the rationale given for the Newton HS was that it was 50 years old. Then it seems the proposal to replace EHS is about 32 years ahead of time. As I have stated before I have 2 nephews that are attending a HS that I went to and it is only 123 years old & there are no plans to replace it any time soon - obviously, it was expanded several times and periodic new technology updates for student teaching have been made .

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HonestAbe 1 year, 1 month ago

Why would the BOE want to replace a high school that is as young as Eastside. Elementary my dear posters. They want a new high school farther East toward say- Baxter and Stanton Springs to entice those future employees to build and live in Newton. They can't justify an additional high school because enrollment isn't there. They can't wait until enrollment increases because they need the school already there as Baxter comes up to lure the new employees into Newton County and away from Morgan and Walton. This is just more undercover taxpayer givaways for Baxter. That's the same reason they are holding this election so early because the new school farther east is so important to them that they want two tries at it in case it fails the first go.

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livingart 1 year, 1 month ago

Exactly - Baxter personnel is not buying in Newton County. I do not blame them - I will go when I can.

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ThePublicGood 1 year, 1 month ago

You are correct. I have friends in Morgan in elected office. I have friends in Walton. Baxter is not even considering Newton County and if any are they are only looking at Eastside High School neighborhoods and most not even then. Can you blame them? Honestly. Time for the Chamber maids to start hollering at board meetings again but this time maybe they need to holler at school crime and at student test scores what a joke!

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ThePublicGood 1 year, 1 month ago

i challenge all Newton County registered voters to go to the polls ONE WEEK FROM TODAY and SEND A STRONG MESSAGE to your school board. We are done with the mismanagement and the bad executives on high roller payouts and salaries. It is time to tell this school board that if you are too lazy to go and petition the GA legislator to revamp SPLOST so that it pays teachers and not buildlings and computers to get stolen in every week's crime report then we VOTE NO on your SPLOST. The current superintendent so I am told has put off all appointments and decision making to the new Supe - that is darn lazy lazy lazy. Man up and do your job there are FIVE MONTHS left in your contract.

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

Right on. If they really care about teachers and security they would have revamping SPLOST on their little sheet of legislature needs they made up. Buildings don't improve test scores- good teachers do.

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

Example of SPLOST projects that must not be important. Way back in 2005 SPLOST citizens paid for a Civic Center to be built. The 2005 SPLOST collected and now paying on the 2011 SPLOST. Feb 2013 and still no Civic Center so it must have not been important enough to ask the citizens to fund. Where is the money collected with the 2005 SPLOST to build the civic center?

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Henrycounselor 1 year, 1 month ago

Its not hard for the board to do this however @this honky meadors is the only one who wants to fix anything nobody else on the board really could careless it seems like.

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eyewitness 1 year, 1 month ago

I vote NO on March 19th and will take a car load voting NO also.

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

The NCSS or no government will ever tell us that they have taken enough of our money in tax. As long as we keep giving it to them they will keep finding ways to spend, waste and give it away. The more money they get the easier their jobs are and the less of a manager they have to be. As long as we keep approving every tax measure they send us they will keep asking and think it's ok to spend in any manner they wish. It is up to the voters to tell them they have enough of our money.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Absolutely right. The all time classic example IMHO is Prez Lyndon Baines Johnson who could not stand to see all that $$$ just sitting in the Social Security trust fund and doing nothing other than it kept getting bigger. So he weaseled around and had a "worthless" interest bearing IOU placed in the cookie jar to fund his programs for "The Great Society" that he invisioned. As of this date no payment on the principal (s) or interest, just one heck of another mess they (politicans) got us in. Guess LBJ and the others that did the same knew they would not be around on this planet long enough to see that their IOUs would ever be repaid. And it is not so funny no one (Dems or Reps) wants to address this issue - other than a casual mention that these IOUs will never be repayed on late night news just before some breaking news report about Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan or that Kardashian group for the 1/2 hour or 45 minutes. Somethings just never change.

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TheUpside 1 year, 1 month ago

I voted NO today early. NO NEW TAXES and NO extended TAXES for a school board who gives away 70K to quitters and who overlooks 500K in stadium lights and who maxed out our millage rate on their own dime.

Fix it yourselves and live within your means. The sky is not falling, Gary, and you all will spend all we give you and save none. If we give you 1000000000 you will spend it.

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HonestAbe 1 year, 1 month ago

Everyone needs to read the SPLOST referrendum. Go to the NCSS and bring it up. Cat A is for their spending which takes in the first 45million. On cat B They say they may pay up to 30 million to retire bond debt. By their own admission they say they estimate they will take in $55 to 57 million. Cat a is their for a reason- This is what they plan to full fill first. That will leave only 10 to 13 million to pay off Bond debt. The only reason they put the figure at 75 million is to make sure it runs the entire 5 years. They have already bonded out debt of. - 2010B= for $25,050,000 2012A= $17,340,000 2012B $8,935,000 plus interest of $5,863,052 as of July 30 2012 (halfway of current SPLOST) This totals up to $57,188,052.00 in debt as of July 30 2012. There plans is to bond $62,500,000 (as in millions plus if you double the interest the total debt will be getting very close to $75 million. So EVEN if you were to collect the whole $75 million and put it on paying off debt you still have $45 million in debt. So no way they eliminate all the Bond millage off our tax bills.. My sources are, NCSS website, OpenGov.com State of Georgia Departments of Audits and accounts and out of their own mouths.

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Gafan4life 1 year, 1 month ago

This NC teacher hasn't had a raise in 8 years. Started my career 16 years ago (all in Newton), and with insurance increases and furlough days and such, I am bringing home LESS than I did 10 years ago. I know the ecomony is bad, but why are we sacrificing the education of our children? (my class size has increased from 19 to 24) My school is rich in technology, we have all the "bells and whistles" ----but morale of staff is dropping...... when will teachers be paid their worth?

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

When SPLOST is revamped so that it can be used ONLY to hire and retain teachers, school safety and millage reduction. We the NO SPLOST are the ones pushing for Legislation for this- not the school board. You the teachers and school safety are the most important in a school system- not replacing a 18 year old building. Voting NO on March 19 will not cost the School system a penny but will send a message to the board to address the real problems in the school system

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Tairuna 1 year, 1 month ago

My girl on the west side is voting NO because she was promised rezoning and is not getting it. I vote NO because this does not help teacher salaries and the threats of cuts make me numb these days. We all spend less so the BOE can spend less too. Suck it up and live in your means people and stop trying to say there is some urgency of need to replace EHS - you said it in your referendum so stop backtracking now. I heard a b oard member at the Patriot's Table say aloud that they were not going to do the EHS thing then why put it in the language peeps?

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SaveEastsideHigh 1 year, 1 month ago

It will not help debt service millage. They promised that in 2007 and they raised it last year in 2012.

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