Cobb residents suffering from ‘SPLOSTaphobia’
by Tom Maloy
Columnist
March 03, 2013 12:00 AM | 3458 views | 26 26 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Early voting on the $773 million Education SPLOST began Monday, yet many voters are unaware of this March 19th special election. Proponents of the tax are keeping a low profile because the more you know about it, the more likely you will be to vote against it.

This wasteful tax has not received much media coverage either. Perhaps, like so many citizens, they too are suffering from the effects of “SPLOSTaphobia” — three SPLOSTs in as many years.

This one is no different from the others; the maximum amount of revenue that could be extracted from taxpayers was determined first, then a projects list was created to spend it.

Unfortunately, the ED-SPLOST will fall woefully short of doing what it’s supposed to do, improve our children’s education. Instead it will hamper education in Cobb County and will exacerbate the projected $80 million school district deficit by building additional infrastructure that the county is financially unequipped to maintain.

Hard-working teachers need to know that even though this SPLOST proposes 56 additional classrooms, there is no funding to hire educators to teach in them. SPLOST funds are restricted from being used for salaries.

When I asked how the school board would address this disparity, I was told that the board is considering having teachers handle multiple classrooms simultaneously. If you’re a teacher, you might want to ask about that before you cast your vote.

Additional maintenance requirements generated by the new infrastructure will worsen the current $80 million deficit. And, according to some school board officials, since the majority of the budget goes for teacher salaries, furloughs may be the only way to balance the budget. Teachers should never take a back seat to infrastructure.

The Ed-SPLOST doesn’t improve education, but diverts funds from true needs. While the project list includes new athletic facilities, gymnasiums, track resurfacing and theaters, less than a third of it provides any instructional benefit for your children. The remaining two thirds raises more questions than answers.

The Career Academy, for example, is a $30 million, 95,000-square-foot facility that will be built somewhere in Cobb County … maybe. Ask where it will be built or how staffing, maintenance and transportation will be funded and you will hear, “We don’t know.” Ask how your child will get from high school to the facility and Superintendent Hinojosa will say, “If the student wants to get there bad enough, he’ll find a way.”

That should frighten any parent with a child in a Cobb County School and should be reason enough to vote no.

If you press on with more questions, you will discover that there is a good possibility that the Career Academy won’t be built at all and the $30 million will just be absorbed into the system.

Another $73 million is allocated to replace two elementary schools and a middle school, but no one can tell you which schools will be replaced, or when. Could this be like the Career Academy — perhaps not to be built anywhere? To assure that everyone gets something, every elementary school will get restroom modifications “as needed,” even though there is no funding in the notebook for such projects. Two of the schools scheduled for restroom modifications are only six months old.

The ED-SPLOST projects list is flawed, the process is flawed and your tax money will be wasted on things that don’t improve education. Students, teachers, parents and taxpayers don’t have to go along with this plan. We can demand a better one after this SPLOST is defeated.

But bear in mind what one school board member repeatedly has said, “A non-vote is a yes-vote.” Certainly most Cobb citizens will agree that our children’s education is too important to be decided by non-voters. Concerned citizens should go to the polls and vote no.

Tom Maloy of Powder Springs is a member of the Georgia Tea Party Board of Directors.
Comments
(26)
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James Bell
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March 09, 2013
The golden rule of a SPLOST tax is: You can build the capitol projects with SPLOST dollars but op. & maintenance must come from general revenue. If the funds are not there property taxes must be raised.

West Cobber
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March 07, 2013
I have serious concerns over SPLOST continuing to fund facilities that the tax base can't afford to maintain. They need to renovate or replace facilities and discontinue building additional facilities.
I continue
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March 06, 2013
to feel that after the board mishandled the balanced calendar issue so completely, I cannot in good conscience vote for anything they support. I will vote against this splost until the balanced calendar returns.
That's right
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March 06, 2013
Punish 116,147 kids because your precious vacation plans to Orlando got cancelled. Get over it and focus on the fact that our property taxes go up if this does not pass. Think.
anonymous
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March 07, 2013
good for you!

you show them!

without the balanced calendar, it's sooo much harder to book disney plans.
@ I continue
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March 08, 2013
News Flash - Don't suppose you heard the news today that like other districts in Georgia, Atlanta Public Schools may end it's decade long year-round school experiment citing:

...the extended schedule has failed to show results after experimenting with it for more than a decade.

...no substantial research says if you take the same number of days and permute them over different calendars, that the learning outcomes are appreciably different.

Toddles, Mickey!

JoEllen Smith
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March 06, 2013
Hi Tom,

I just wanted to kindly bring to your attention that you are mistaken on one very important fact. I spoke with the Chair of the Cobb School Board, Randy Scamihorn. He said he is willing to go on record that the CCSB is NOT considering having teachers cover more than one classroom! Randy is a former teacher and when I told him that I would fight this if it were to happen, he said he would be right there with me. Kindly let people know this is a mistaken rumor.
mk- $$$$ abyss
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March 04, 2013
The SPLOST's in Cobb are slush funds and nothing more!

Politicians (and school board members), are rolling around in a trough filled w/ our tax money, deciding which fat cats & cronies have supported them enough to deserve some of the stolen money.

This money affords the elite to live their good lives while 1/2 of Cobb County suffers in poverty.

They keep it well out of sight over here, from South Cobb Drive to Powder Springs, Austell & Six Flags.

They should all be in jail, including Hinojosa! What a playa'!!
There, it's Fixed!
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March 04, 2013
Tom, Tom, Tom...

Who made you the expert on school affairs?

Have you been into any of the schools?

Should we have just you develop the project lists?

Just how long should we wait while you visit more than 130 facilities within the county to hear what your project list would look like, only to have it criticized to the point where nothing gets done?

The only solutions you've offered are:

1.) Delay

2.) Adjust - to your needs list

3.) Fault a process that has been working splendidly since 1996 and which has allowed the Cobb district to become and remain debt free.

Most prefer that neurosurgeons do brain surgery.

While you may travel roads in Cobb and could argue that your a street wise apprentice when it comes to transportation projects and funding, it's doubtful you've spent much time at all in Cobb schools.

Theresa Lombino
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March 03, 2013
There are schools in West Cobb that are over 25 years old and really need to be torn down or some renovations done, it seems most of the money goes to East Cobb schools. Some of the splost money has gone for parks in East Cobb while West Cobb gets sidewalk to "no where" The people in West Cobb need to speak up. Helen Gorman does not really represent the whole county and I recall when she first ran for county commissioner at Andrea Coleman's house she promised equality for everyone...illegals seem to have priority in Cobb country
anonymous
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March 04, 2013
Sidewalks and schools have nothing to do with one another. Sidewalks are handled by the Cobb Commission. Schools are handled by the School Districts.

To suggest that East Cobb has only benefited is wrong.

With the Ed-SPLOST, 9 new schools have been built in West Cobb. Hillgrove was built with SPLOST funds. Mableton ES and Clarkdale ES are other recent examples.
anonymous
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March 05, 2013
"it seems most of the money goes to East Cobb schools."

- Please explain, what facts are you using to make this statement?

or

Are you just babbling nonsense for the sake of making yourself feel better? Why don't you run for the board instead of whining about Gorman?

Which part of the county contributes the majority of property taxes?

Give me facts
|
March 19, 2013
You say most of the money goes to East Cobb Schools? Do you have facts to support that claim?

Some East Cobb schools are 40 years old. So what? I want ALL schools in need of renovations to get them whether they are. Cobb County schools need the funding of Ed-SPLOST - North Cobb, South Cobb, East Cobb, West Cobb. We are all Cobb County and need to stop being divisive about it.

I am not certain of the specifics regarding how county funds are distributed, but the East Cobb Park (for example) was created because East Cobb Residents raised the funds, bought the land, sold bricks and benches for revenue, and donated the land to Cobb County. East Cobb families spoke up and made it happen. I encourage West Cobb residents to do likewise. I want ALL of Cobb County to thrive! And East Cobb Park is open to ALL Cobb residents to come and enjoy.

From the East Cobb Park website: "The East Cobb Park is a prime example of residents and county government working together. The Friends of the East Cobb Park conducted a fund raising campaign to purchase the land for the 13 acre park. Cobb County government helped with some funding and a partnership was born. The park has become one of the most heavily used parks in our system. A combination of slate and natural surface walking trails encompasses the park. Pavilions, open grass areas, creek overlooks and a playground offer the visitor hours of enjoyment."
anonymous
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March 03, 2013
“If the student wants to get there bad enough, he’ll find a way.”

AMEN! Let the go for all schools, sports and other activties. The sooner we stop seeing big yellow liabilities on the roads the sooner traffic will move better and taxes will go down. Might even make people think twice about reproducing!
anonymous
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March 03, 2013
and if it does not pass, what will come of all of the project managers, construction people and others that are funded by SPLOST? Will they be let go or will money be found to keep them around to try again? Several people, albeit non-teachers, could lose their jobs.
Are you pro-tax?
|
March 03, 2013
So Mr. Maloy, with an irrational fear of SPLOST who uses misleading statements to educate your readers.

What is your plan for the $773M in project needs for this SPLOST if it does not pass? Who pays the bonds already outstanding in Marietta City Schools?

Out of the operations budget which will impact our budget for teachers?

AND ultimately funded with bonds which will increase my property taxes.

Do not pretend to be an expert on the business of education, you are not.

anonymous
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March 04, 2013
There absolutely are m

Not $773 M In needs.

Stop lying.
@ Mr. Maloy
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March 03, 2013
Why do you continue to suggest that district needs were not determined first despite evidence to the contrary?

Using your logic that facilities "do nothing to improve education" is akin to suggesting that the county should not invest in patrol cars for police officers.

Are you in a better position that school experts to determine what school needs are?

Lying or misleading?
|
March 03, 2013
Is your intent to lie our just mislead?

"...the maximum amount of revenue that could be extracted from taxpayers was determined first, then a projects list was created to spend it. "

The overall projects list totaling over $2B was established well before the revenue projections were determined.

But why use facts that do not fit your bias or should I say phobias.

Apropos title
|
March 03, 2013
The definition of phobia - a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
Papermill gal
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March 04, 2013
I have a fear of politicians and their crony capitalist friends, but only because they would take money away from the children to fund themselves. Having a one billion dollar budget leads some people to think they deserve part of that pie. Cut all that and fund our classrooms, quit using SPLOST to pit east against west, to bribe parents and teachers and to fill your own pockets. Everyone is getting a piece of the action except those who are not connected.
never give up
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March 03, 2013
Don't worry, if the vote goes against them, (the suddenly silent ones, that is) they will come up with something else. They will not let this go. And another thing, with the lack of any real attention, the voter turnout will be light! More in their favor.
MickeyHelen
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March 05, 2013
I would support education, but the problem is the people in charge of the FUNDS don't seem to keep control of where it is going. Can't trust the people in charge of the funds to do the right thing so why would we vote for another SPLOST!
@ MickeyHelen
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March 05, 2013
Rather than cast aspersions, be specific.

Name the wrong things.
Here's your answer.
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March 05, 2013
In 14 years of SPLOST, audits have not revealed 1 single instance of mismanagement.

Furthermore, the Facilities and Technology Committee (F&T Committee), staffed by citizens of Cobb, was established 3 years ago and is authorized to specifically provide oversight for any Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) project by performing an analytical assessment and project verification to determine if expenditures are meeting defined specifications as approved by the voters within the SPLOST referendum and as authorized by the Board.

Now, vote YES on March 19th.
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