Here is a way for everybody to effectively decrease a portion of their living expenses. The sales tax takes a chunk of your spendable income each time you make a purchase. You can decrease that expense by 16 percent. Just vote NO on the Ed-SPLOST referendum March 19. If it fails to pass, on Jan. 1, 2014, the sales tax rate will drop to 5 percent. It won’t make up for the tax increase entirely, but it is a start. Don’t fall for that malarkey that it is “only 1 percent.” It represents 16 percent of your sales tax cost.
If you have read the “SPLOST Notebook” available on the school board’s website, you have learned that it is hardly a list of needs. It is, in fact, more a list of wants. Sure, there are some needed items sandwiched in all the gingerbread. If you have been following the debate on this tax, you also know that there is a lot of misinformation floating around.
CLAIM: This is part of a list of needs developed earlier last year, equating to over $2 billion. The list was pared down to the basic essentials.
REALITY: The earlier list was a smoke screen, composed of “want it” projects and “will the taxpayers go for this?” speculation, intended only to sell the final list as “bare needs.” Does anybody really believe that we absolutely must have seven new gymnasiums costing over $69 million, or six new performing arts centers costing $75 million? Seriously, aren’t these things you do during boom times, not during recessions? And, face it folks, we have no guarantee that the economy is going to improve.
CLAIM: If the SPLOST referendum does not pass, the alternative is either increased property taxes or a bond issue, leading to increased property taxes.
REALITY: Property taxes in Cobb County are very close to the maximum allowed by state law. The real alternative is to put the projects on hold, awaiting an economic recovery. The career academy ($29 million dollars) to be built “sometime, somewhere” is certainly not a need. The notebook proposes several new schools (over $100 million), with no location, no justification and no plan for staffing, operating expenses and maintenance.
Who says we are gong to even need them? As of October 2011, less than two years ago, according to the CCSD Planning Department, there were 8,014 empty desks in Cobb County schools.
Do we believe that all those desks have now been filled and we need to build new schools?
I hardly think so. Do you?
CLAIM: A large portion, as much as a third, of this tax will be paid for by non-residents.
REALITY: This claim, made each time we have a SPLOST, is based on a debunked study done mostly by counting the percentage of foreign license plates in parking lots. Besides, even if the percentage is true, does that change the amount you pay? No, it does not!
Many of the items in this notebook appear to be long-neglected routine maintenance items. To hit a few high spots, there is $5 million for flooring replacement in 10 schools. We are told that 19 schools, all at once, are in dire need of painting, at a cost of $7.2 million. Track resurfacing adds over $4.5 million.
Interestingly enough, had the Cobb County Commission passed the IMAGE ordinance, we would probably be looking at a mass exodus of illegal immigrant children in our school system and decreased need for additional facilities.
The pro-SPLOST forces have done an excellent job of spreading the propaganda that, without this SPLOST, your taxes will go out of sight, our children will suffer and education in Cobb County will be dead. None of that is true. They need to redo this notebook to reflect a modicum of common sense.
Before you vote, take a half hour, go the school district web site at www.cobb.k 12.ga.us and examine or download the 154 page SPLOST Notebook.
It will not take much study to convince you to say NO to this SPLOST.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.