Tax foes demand action against ‘crack cocaine’ for schools
by Geoff Folsom
March 11, 2013 12:16 AM | 5100 views | 52 52 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A group of protesters hold signs during a ‘Rock the E-SPLOST’ rally at Marietta Square on Sunday.<br>Staff/Emily Barnes
A group of protesters hold signs during a ‘Rock the E-SPLOST’ rally at Marietta Square on Sunday.
Staff/Emily Barnes
slideshow
One speaker at an anti-SPLOST IV rally Sunday called the $717.8 million project list “garbage.”

“I support the concept of SPLOST, but I am against this,” said former Cobb School District Facilities and Technologies Committee chair Kimberly Euston. “It has become the crack cocaine of the school district.”

Lance Lamberton, president and founder of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, organized the tea-party type rally, which attracted around 40 people, some with “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flags, to the Marietta Square Sunday afternoon. He said the March 19 special purpose local option sales tax vote would authorize more spending on sports, entertainment and recreation programs than the classroom.

“Defeating the SPLOST will be a wake up call to the powers that be,” Lamberton said. “Let them know there is a new sheriff in town and that sheriff is you, the taxpayer.”

SPLOST supporter John Loud, owner of LOUD Security Systems, disputed the idea that most of the money raised in the election would go toward non-essential activities. He invited people to check the SPLOST Notebook to see all the individual projects.

“Somebody can always find one, three, five or 10 projects they have a problem with,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate and shortsighted when somebody says they are going to vote ‘no’ because of a theater or a gymnasium.”

Euston questioned whether Cobb Schools’ figures of a replacement for Walton High School, costing $39.9 million, were accurate, saying the district had previously looked at only putting in a new gym and fine arts center for $25.5 million. She accused the district of using the school to get crucial east Cobb support, only to later come back and say that the school can’t be completed unless they vote for a SPLOST V.

“I thought this was Cobb County, not East Cobb County,” she said. “How many town meetings have been held in other parts of the county?”

Loud said other parts of Cobb were also being taken care of, pointing to a $29.9 million line item for Osborne High School in Smyrna.

“When you look at that notebook, it’s about every single high school, every single feeder school,” he said.

Former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne told audience members, some of whom held signs reading “Ax the Tax!” that voter turnout will be crucial, since March elections often draw between 7 and 10 percent of voters. He wasn’t comforted when he went to vote early and a poll worker told him only six people had voted that day.

“The American people reelected President Barack Obama,” Byrne said. “I do not hold Barack Obama responsible, I hold the American people responsible. I don’t blame the Board of Education for asking, I will hold you responsible if you say ‘yes.’”

Loud, who attended Sunday’s rally, said the crowd size was indicative that people are supporting Ed-SPLOST.

“I realize that there are more students in some overcrowded Cobb classrooms than there were at a county-wide rally today,” he said. “That was a positive statement for a ‘yes’ vote.”
Comments
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anonymous
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March 12, 2013
For all of you wanting it to fail, when it passes, just start maing plans to shop in Cherokee, Bartow, Paulding. Imagine what the sales tax will do for Cherokee when that outlet mall opens later this year. What will it do to Cobb tax revenue from Towne Center?
Joe Will
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March 11, 2013
Bill Bryne, you are still mad that the county would not give your company work in SPLOST II. You sure liked SPLOST then when there was potential money in it for you. And Kimberly Euston, your just mad, pissed because you did not get your way. Why do you continue to talk out of both sides of your month, I support SPLOST but not the project list or the March vote. Smoke screen for just mad. Lie , smoke screen, talk this side, talk that side, won't your children go to Walton.

SUPPORT SPLOST!
Beth Cooper
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March 12, 2013
Clearly, Joe Will, you could've definitely benefitted from more money spent on your education, and not your sports stadiums. There are multiple forms of 'your' and each is used in different grammatical situations. You're** all wrong here buddy, you should be mad your education failed you.
Special Interest
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March 11, 2013
Repeal the exemption for seniors....why should I pay property taxes? My children don't attend Cobb County schools.

Why the redistribution of wealth from young couples to old couples? How is this fair taxation?

This is the same generation that has given the US $16 Trillion in debt!!

Thanks a lot.......
Kennesaw Resident
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March 14, 2013
The $16 trillion in debt is parimarily due to the cost of Medicare. First dollar coverage, subsidized premiums, and an unfunded $60 billion liability for Medicare Part D. The wealth transfer is occuring the other way - from the young to the old. Get your facts straight.
JR in Mableton
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March 11, 2013
Sorry I missed the HUGE 40-person rally!!

I have already voted YES!!

JR at Southfork
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March 12, 2013
Sorry, wiped your vote out.....
Kennesaw Resident
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March 14, 2013
Wiped out - plus one on the "NO" side!
Cobb Whiners
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March 11, 2013
WOW! Forty people showed up at this rally. Once again, the Tea Party has no solutions. Voting NO won't fix any leaking roofs, replace any HVAC systems, rebuild any 50 year old buildings.

These same people were running around with Neal Boortz's Fair Tax book just a few years ago. Now they are against everything.

With $2Billion is documents maintenance, how does the Tea Party suggest that these needs be met? DEBT

Before long, the only people living in Cobb will be older than 65 because the don't have to pay property taxes. I will be moving my family to an area that invests in education.

Hey Tea Party....what happens when the school system is stapped with debt and can't handle future growth? What happens when business avoids Cobb County because of a deteriorating education system?

Bill Byrne is just desperate for attention. Kimberly Euston is just upset because her silly games resulted in losing a seat on the F&T committee.

A NO vote will produce DEBT, HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES, and REDUCED PROPERTY VALUES.

While we are at it, why don't we remove the exemption for seniors?
Bryn Cobbel
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March 12, 2013
Kimberley* Euston is concerned about what Georgia schools REALLY need. Which, in my opinion, isn't county-wide financial negligence and gross misallocation of funds meant to be spent on EDUCATION not sports. Let's give Cobb teacher's raises, or get new desks, books, lockers, HVAC, you know.. ANYTHING that doesn't include another pointless concession stand and that doesn't involve the resurfacing of tennis courts that some of these schools don't even have!

In regard to another comment, "Why should I have to pay taxes as a senior when my kids don't go to Cobb county schools?" Let me ask you this, "Why should I have to pay into Medicare when I don't take from it, and it will be bankrupt by the time I'm eligible to collect from it?"

In any case, bashing a concerned citizen for taking a stand on an issue she believes in doesn't merit such asinine comments as "Kimberly Euston is just upset because her silly games resulted in losing a seat on the F&T committee." If you were a committee member you would know much better than that, but as a respectable person, you should also know better than to speculate and then gossip like my high school daughters do.
VFP42
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March 11, 2013
How is this even legal that the Walton PTSA can have ANY input whatsoever upon sales taxes levied within the City of Marietta?

Where is Roger Hines to complain about how Cobb County voters in the Walton district voting "yes" might outnumber City of Marietta voters voting "no" thus turning our whole Republic upside down?

@ VFP42
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March 12, 2013
While your rants may be entertaining to some, they're often void of reality.

Take time to understand, rather than speak of which you clearly do not know.

A mutual resolution must be adopted by each governing board before proposing the referendum to voters. The Cobb and Marietta boards have done so.

It's legal.
Former Illinoisan
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March 11, 2013
I lived and then taught in Illinois for the 1st 40 years of my life. We paid close to $10K in property taxes per year with a good chunk of that going to the schools. Anytime a capital project was needed in the schools, a referendum was voted on by the taxpayers to RAISE THEIR TAXES to fund that project. If you would rather do this - keeping the sole responsbility for our schools on the shoulders of the property owning taxpayers - then go ahead an vote no. I, however, am for ALL people purchasing items in Cobb County to help with our schools - taxpayers or not. Count me as a HUGE YES vote.
@To Dustoff2
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March 11, 2013
I say we keep the exemption and let the students move. Allow people who care about their seniors to move into the district!

Kennesaw Resident
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March 12, 2013
@ @To Dustoff2, seniors receive a disproportionate share of resources. I don't think it is a question of caring about seniors, it is a question of caring about the future and of fairness to those that come after us. We need to leave them something better than what they will get.
School teacher
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March 11, 2013
Can that third paragraph have any more commas? Hey editor, where are you?
commafest
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March 12, 2013
@ School teacher, I noticed the third paragraph 'comma-fest', too!! Ha! Another thing I notice in the SPLOST blogging is the whiners who absolutely abhor expenditures for athletics and fine arts and want their tax dollars to go exclusively to EDUCATION. Meanwhile, they have completely butchered the English language with misspelled words, poor grammar and incorrect sentence structure. Must've been napping during that part of their school day. Something tells me they are most likely overweight and don't appreciate bands, chorus or the orchestra!!
Get ready
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March 11, 2013
All of you who are voting no to SPLOST need to be prepared for the property tax hikes that will come. In addition, the senior exemption will have to be repealed because the county will be forced to borrow money to keep up the schools. Everyone is frustrated but it is a double edge sword that I am personally not willing to chance. The illegal situation is not the schools fault but the fault of Obama and the laws that state we have to educate all people who walk in our doors. The citizens will suffer in the end!
My Reply
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March 11, 2013
Did you learn your scare tactics from Obama? The senior exception will never -- did you hear me -- never be repealed, so get that dream out of your head. And even it it were (which will never happen), the dollars gained are pennies on the dollar as to what schools are asking for. What is happening is this. The private sector has downsized, laid off, etc. for many years. What you see happening now is the public sector is entering into the same "era" where they are forced to look at their wants versus their needs. This is starting to happen all over government as the sequester backfires on Obama. Teachers are being forced to be grateful for their salaries in light of the weeks they get off. New gyms, stadiums, roofs, lighting, etc. have absolutely nothing to do with educating all people who walk in our doors. You have it all wrong. Citizens will not suffer. Public sector employees will not suffer in that they are being forced to do what private sector employees have been forced to do and we all lived on to tell about it. Our children will keep getting an education whether or not SPLOST succeeds or fails. Our seniors will keep getting their exemptions whether or not SPLOST succeeds or fails. This is the time for all people to take a really hard look at what SPLOST dollars will go for and cut the fat out. There is plenty of fat to be cut out.
anonymous
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March 11, 2013
Actually, Cobb has recently replaced three of it's elementary schools - East Side, Mableton and Clarkdale - while making significant improvements at many other elementary schools. It's also building a new elementary school in Smyrna.

SPLOST II delivered 13 Elementary School Addition/Renovations.

Don't blame Cobb schools for an illegal immigration matter. Familiarize yourself with Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court case... bottom line; K-12 programs must supply education to anyone who shows up regardless of their resident status.
follow-up
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March 11, 2013
North Cobb & Walton each have approximately 2,600 students.

North Cobb has 143 classrooms.

Walton has 122 classrooms plus 5 trailers.

Seems like Walton may be about 21 permanent classrooms shy.

Walton is landlocked and parking is a nightmare. Just my two cents; Go vertical and increase the parking.
Opponents on Crack
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March 11, 2013
I wasn't going to vote, but now seeing all the crazys who don't care at all about our community out there with their anti everything approach I will be voting YES. Thanks for changing my mind. You must be on crack to think we can have first class schools without investing in them.
anonymous
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March 11, 2013
Obviously a chamber tuxedo, pretending to be one of us "little people."

Which CCSD business contractee are you with, Cronyist #1 or Cronyister #2?
Not Correct
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March 11, 2013
What the Ax the Tax crowd does not realize is that by voting no or not voting at all on March 19th, you are voting to INCREASE your property taxes. By voting YES for the CONTINUATION of the Education SPLOST on March 19th (NOT a new tax), you are voting to help every public school in Cobb AND KEEP property taxes low and your home values high while 1/3 of those who do NOT live in Cobb help pay for it. This is a no brainer. I am voting YES to support our kids and our schools and keep our property taxes low!
mk-the corruption
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March 11, 2013
Wake up Cobb County!

SPLOST is a SLUSH fund, disguised as a necessity!

Who can't see that??

Cobb County has not nurtured its small elementary schools.

Cobb has allowed its schools to be overrun w/ children of illegal aliens, better named 'anchor' babies. That is what they are!

At Americas expense.

Georgia has a larger illegal alien population than Arizona! Once they cross the border, they come to Georgia and hide in plain sight!

The wonderful little school in my neighborhood, Brown Elementary, that SHOULD have been as good as some of the small Buckhead elementaries,.. has been shuttered, due to the exploding Smyrna anchor baby population!

Smyrna and Cobb County have now built a MASSIVE 23 million dollar elementary school building on the vacant Belmont Hills property.

WHO is building that building & all the NEW roads surrounding it?

The illegals,.. that's who! And that cash money will be sent home to Mexico, Honduras & Guatelala,.. so one day these folks will live very good, when & IF they DO go home.

The new elementary will herd ALL of the children into one area and brainwash them as our government sees fit!

There is a reason Hinojosa was brought to Cobb!

He will help facilitate this 'change' of America!
anonymous
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March 11, 2013
Go away. Your continuous rants are meaningless trivia. Hey, I think I hear the wind blowing....
onlycritter1968
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March 11, 2013
By looking at the picture and reading this article, I feel we have another group of CAVE people - citizens against virtually everything. Ignore them and say yes to education.
Pat H
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March 11, 2013
No, Mr. Loud, most people have already decided to vote NO but do not want to be associated with Mr. Lamberton, who is an open borders advocate and spoke out against IMAGE.

If we had Chamber support and businesses used E-verify, we would have self-deportation of illegals because they would not be able to work. Without illegals, we would need far fewer schools and the tax savings there to citizen taxpayers would be enormous.

School construction without IMAGE in place would be a magnet for even more illegals hired for the construction, and we would have to pay to educate their children. Illegals were found working on two school projects last year. Vote NO and stop this madness.
Flawed logic
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March 11, 2013


$231,900,000.00 is raised by visitors and commuters to Cobb and Marietta.

Throw that money away so that we can raise property taxes on our homeowners and businesses?

And by the way, Malloy admitted in yesterday's MDJ, that bonds would have to be issued. So here come your property tax increases.
Wha??
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March 11, 2013
So, let's make OUR children stay in schools with more kids per classroom, leaky roofs, antiquated school buses and high utility costs so we can afford less of the material needed in classrooms? Yeah, that'll show those darn illegals!
Ga Patriot
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March 11, 2013
@Wha?? - Walton was built in 1975. Leaky roof? So you replace the entire school instead of replacing the roof? Some parts of that school are only a couple of years old.

This is E-SPLOST IV. It is irresponsible to replace an entire school because the roof leaks. My house was built in 1967 - it is a fine home, built by craftsmen instead of illegal aliens. The school I attended was built in the 1940's, still in use, still in good shape. There will never be an end to SPLOSTs as long as this kind of waste of money continues.

Larger classes without another E-SPLOST? Really? How do auditoriums and new theaters lower class size? Actually, it is a disgrace that there are still trailers at schools with all of the previous SPLOSTS. Smaller classes do not necessarily produce higher test scores. Stop wasting money, stop tearing down perfectly good buildings, concentrate on academics and then maybe talk about another SPLOST if our country isn't in a depression.

I don't believe that "visitors" and "commuters" contribute all that much. Who travels to Marietta for their vacation? Commuters just travel on from their home to their jobs - generally outside of Marietta.
@ GA Patriot
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March 11, 2013
Because of SPLOST, more than 600 trailers have been eliminated. There will be fewer than 90 across a district that had more than 700.

Leaky roofs are the smallest issue at of some of the older schools, like Walton, Osborne, and East Cobb for example.

Walton and North Cobb each have approx. 2,600 students. Walton is about 48,000 sq. ft. shy of the specifications for a school having enrollment of just 2,000 students. So, the district can keep students there is trailers, or get rid of the trailers as you seem to advocate while addressing the needs of the current student population. For comparison, a building covering a football field (100 yds. x 50 yds.)is 45,000 sq. ft.

News flash... Believe what you will yet know that tourism is big business in Cobb.
NOOOO to splost
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March 11, 2013
The MDJ hasn't helped to really dig deep into the waste that is in the notebook for splost. Kimberly Eauston has it right when she says that using Walton was a way to entice people to pass this. She knows the scoop firsthand, and Sweeney should be ashamed of himself for lacking any backbone, and making the passage of splost his only priority for too many months. vote NO
YESSSSSSSS to SPLOST
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March 11, 2013
So people who support a project that their children benefit from should keep their mouths shut under your logic?

So that we can listen to the Ax the Tax few tell us their plan for cutting 1 penny tax that raises $231 MILLION by people who do not live in Cobb? So that then property taxes can be increased for homeowners and business owners?

I vote YES.

Drug Free!
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March 11, 2013
Euston is quoted in the MDJ in February as saying “I support the concept of SPLOST and we need SPLOST to pass," yet calls SPLOST "crack cocaine."

First, SPLOST is legal - Crack isn't.

Second, Euston has insulted the majority of Cobb voters who have steadfastly supported SPLOST because it's the most efficient method of delivering much needed capital improvements to Cobb County Schools.

East Cobb has consistently and strongly supported SPLOST which has delivered at least 9 new schools in the West Cobb area yet Euston isn't supportive of projects in her own community - Wheeler, a new Walton & a new East Cobb replacement middle school.

anonymous
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March 11, 2013
Euston's point is well-taken - Cobb's school district (and other government entities) have become absolutely addicted to SPLOSTS.

And ask yourself why John Loud is continuously out there promoting SPLOSTS. In this one, there is over $1M in security systems for schools in this SPLOST notebook. Loud owns a security company. Can you say conflict of interests? There's nothing wrong with businesses making money. These funds don't stimulate Cobb's economy - they line the pockets of Chamber hacks like Loud because no other security company will have a chance of winning that bid. I can't blame Loud - a $1M contract is a sweet deal.

United 4 Kids (whoever that is), has been telling people that if SPLOST 4 does not pass, a home valued at $250k will see an increase in their property taxes of $1000/ year. To realize that increase, property taxes would have to increase to almost 30 mils. Since there is a mandatory cap of 20mils on property tax, and we're at 18.9, how is that going to happen?

I am far more concerned that our elected leaders and Chamber of Commerce representatives can't get their initiative passed without lying and creating fear. If it is so fabulous, why are they so scared of the truth? I'd feel a lot better if they were afraid to lie. Look how well lying went for John Crooks.

K Euston
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March 11, 2013
If you read the article closely, I do say I support the concept of SPLOST. I, however, do not support this project list that is why I voted against it while on the F&T Committee. The district should have taken more time with the list and had the election in November. The district needs to get the project list right. In the draft project list released to the public in October, Walton was slated to receive $25.5 mio for a new gymnasium and a fine arts facility with a theater. Now, Walton is receiving a new replacement school, including a gymnasium and fine arts facility for a new total cost of $38.4 mio. That is an increase of only $12.9 mio for a brand new school?????? The numbers do not make sense. I support the concept of SPLOST but I do not support this project list. The district needs to do a better job of managing our money. The central office of the school district should cut the fat at the top, stop redecorating offices, eliminate the vacation accrual perk and use some of these savings out of their general operating budget to pay our teachers. With the correct project list that relates to education, I will lobby to support the SPLOST. This list is not it.
@ K Euston
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March 11, 2013
So, let's see if we follow your logic;

SPLOST is crack, by all accounts a terrible, addictive illegal drug. You picked the analogy and just how lovely to use in a school setting by the way!

But, you're okay with crack provided you're the dealer.

No thanks!
Just Sayin'....
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March 11, 2013
K Euston - Thank you so much for sticking to your position on this. I have children in the school system and would like to see us do right by the teachers first, before we embark on more spending. To all the people who say that property taxes will go up, that will be the case anyway, with or without a SPLOST. The SPLOST only influences the general fund when we play games with it and declare funds excess. Otherwise, property taxes are what support the day to day operations of our school district.

By definition, the SPLOST is not meant to be a permanent tax, nor is it meant to be overestimated so we can declare excess funds year after year. At some point this shell game must stop and we must find a reliable way to fund our educational system. I support SPLOST when it is done with care and consideration for needs versus wants. At the present time, neither is the case. So.....I voted NO.
Sick of Politics
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March 11, 2013
@ K Euston

Just one question--why are you no longer on the F & T committee?
No More Crack
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March 12, 2013
Improve the QUALITY of education first. You don't need to sit in a mansion to "get your smart on." I went to school in a 3 room wooden school that housed 9 grades and had outside bathrooms. I am now the CFO of a major company. Invest the SPLOST money in quality teachers!!!!

@ No More Crack
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March 12, 2013
As the CFO of a major company, one might believe you would be astute enough to know you can't fund teacher salaries with SPLOST!

Delusion confirmed!
@ Just Sayin'....
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March 12, 2013
Congratulations... your "No" vote, if cast with the majority, will likely result in fewer teaching jobs in Cobb County.

Capital needs don't magically disappear when they are not funded.

Projects that would otherwise rely on SPLOST funding, must then be paid out of the operation budget meaning less dollars for teacher salaries.

Just Sayin!
Mike F.
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March 11, 2013
It cracks me up to see those two young girls (school age) holding up anti-SPLOST signs. Of course in the back ground are two, old white men - proselytizing.

More money needs to be funneled in schools and teachers, and it starts with higher taxes for everyone: SPLOST and property taxes. Let's move our society forward with education.
Pay Up Seniors
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March 11, 2013
You are right Mike F.! The beginning point needs to be having our seniors pay their fair share, not SPLOST.
dustoff
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March 11, 2013
Why should us seniors pay for the education of illegals? We paid for years before most of you were born and we paid high taxes because there was no SPLOST and we earned less.

What you all need to do is make a stand and stop the BOC from wasting money by building Taj Mahal schools and get bact to teaching rather than sports and arts.
James Bell
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March 11, 2013
Education spending has little to do with the quality of education. Some districts spend far more than others with no noticeable improvements. Just more spending.

The odds are this tax will pass. Voters have no clue this vote is ongoing. It's all about voter turn out.
anonymous
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March 11, 2013
@ Pay up seniors- I can completely understand why this issue is important to you, but the reality is that it will not happen. Please take some time to understand how this works. The exemption was passed by the Cobb State Legislative Delegation in the 70's and has to be repealed via the same mechanism. County officials have absolutely nothing to do with it.

The reality is that you would need to find a majority of the Cobb Legislative Delegation willing to carry a bill to repeal this exemption. Carrying a bill means signing one's name to it. Once signed under one's name there is no pulling away from it - EVER. For an elected official, your idea would be political suicide because they would be seen as being "anti-senior citizens".

The most reliable voting block is senior citizens, every elected official whose name appears on such a bill would be voted out of office.

It simply isn't going to happen.

You have a far higher likelihood of success in opposing the wasteful spending habits of the school district and commission than you do of ever getting this idea off the ground. If you are truly committed to seeing the exemption repealed, please run for State House or Senate in your district with a pledge to end the senior exemption by carrying the bill to do so. Carrying the bill means signing your name, not asking others to do it.

To Dustoff
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March 11, 2013
You don't think that seniors paid for your education before they created the exemption for seniors. The way I look at it is that teachers and students are ebing shorted because of the exemption tax. This special exemption shorts the district 65 million every year and we continue to build more senior living. I say we repeal the exemption and let the seniors move. Allow people who care about their schools to move into the dictrict! Seniors don't care about the teachers taking pay cuts and the students having less days in school.....how selfish can you be!
John Galt
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March 11, 2013
@ To Dustoff, Amen!!!!
Pay Up Seniors
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March 11, 2013
@ anonymous, I do understand how the senior exemption works and the CCSB can ask the legislators to redact the exemption. Do Lindsey Tippins and others have the guts to do what is right for the young people of Cobb County if asked? Probably not and that is truly unfortunate.
Getagrip2
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March 12, 2013
I have paid my fair share ...to educate everybody else's kids, while nobody but me paid a dime to educate mine.

Refund me what I've paid over the last 32 years to educate other peoples' kids, and then you can talk about repealing the senior exemption, OK?
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