As of Thursday, March 14, 2013
© Copyright 2014
Eastside High School is only 18 years old. The ESPLOST referendum for March 19 calls for replacing the best-performing high school in Newton County. Regardless of what you have been told, if this SPLOST passes it is in the plan to be replaced by 2017. The enrollment in Newton County is down so there is no need for additional space in our high schools. Under Georgia code any money taken for an item in the referendum can only be used for that item. Please don't let the school board mislead you. Do the research yourselves.
When we passed the current SPLOST, we gave the school system a huge package of $110 million in spending and $62.5 million in bonding (borrowing). How were we repaid? With property tax increases every year. The first year of the SPLOST (2010) operational and maintenance millage rates increased from 18.2 to 20 mills. They have remained at the 20 mill cap (by state law) every year since. A 1.0 mill bond was also added to our property bills in 2010, increased to 1.073 in 2011, and increased to 1.9 in 2012. Out of 164 school systems in Georgia, Newton County has the fifth-highest property tax millage. So the property owners in Newton County have gone above board in supporting our school system. The NCSS says it needs this SPLOST because the state has taken away $53 million in funding over the past six years. The property owners are hurting as well. In 2009 the state homestead money was taken away from us and has added $200 to $300 to our tax bills. We have had to learn how to manage with less, so the NCSS need to learn to do the same.
The referendum calls for $45 million in spending (paragraph A) and $30 million in tax relief (paragraph B). They have said in several writings and statements they expect to take in $55 million to $57 million during the five years of the SPLOST. I ask you to do the math. You can't pay $75 million with $55 million to $57 million coming in. After the $45 million in spending there will be only $10 million to $12 million for property tax relief. The referendum says max of $30 million, so the $30 million debt relief is not guaranteed as they seem to be saying.
By voting SPLOST down on March 19, the NCSS will not lose a single penny of money. It will only postpone the SPLOST and allow the school system the time to go back and rewrite this poor referendum. After it is fixed the NCSS will bring it back in the November 2014 election in time before the current SPLOST runs out. They will know more then about what's really needed.
-- Dennis Taylor