‘Yes’ vote on SPLOST will assure debt-free schools
by John Loud and Jay Cunningham
Columnists
March 17, 2013 12:00 AM | 2225 views | 5 5 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Loud
John Loud
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Jay Cunningham
Jay Cunningham
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On Tuesday the Cobb County voters have a wonderful opportunity to vote on the continuation SPLOST Referendum and help continue to support the 116,147 students in our county and the 14,500 employees who dedicate themselves to the children of our community.

Because this is a continuation or renewal, let me share with you what has been accomplished with the past ED-SPLOST.

n 22 new schools have been built;

n Over 2300 new classrooms;

n More than 550 portable classroom trailers have been eliminated;

n More than 46,000 computers have been replaced;

n Major security and safety upgrade projects have been completed; and

n More than 5000 total projects completed as promised to voters.

And the best part is that the Cobb County School district is 100 percent debt free.

nnn

Here is the problem: The District’s operating budget is not sufficient to fund capital improvements, or even regular building renovations and repairs. About 90 percent of the District’s operating budget, which is supported by state funding and local property taxes, goes to pay the salaries of teachers, administrators, bus drivers, food-server employees, custodians and other staff. The other 10 percent pays for items such as textbooks and supplies, as well as utilities such as fuel, gas electricity and water. State funding and local property taxes do not provide for regular building maintenance or for technology enhancements.

Let us remind you that Cobb County is one of the only counties in Georgia that exempts all seniors 62 years and older from paying any school property tax.

Prior to ED-SPLOST, such improvements were paid for by the school district issued bonds that had to be paid back over many years with interest and resulted in property tax increases. For example, a $221 million bond issued in 1995 for school construction was paid back with an additional $92 million in interest. This ED-SPLOST program has saved taxpayers an estimated half a billion dollars in bond interest payments that we did not have to make.

Please be aware that 32 percent of all Cobb County Schools are more than 40 years old. We currently have 112 schools with 116,147 students enrolled. We all realize that timely maintenance renovations today will prevent much more costly infrastructure emergency expenses in the future. This ED-SPLOST will raise an estimated $717 million for the Cobb County School District and $55 million for the Marietta City Schools.

Cobb County residents enjoy a high quality of life resulting from the value created by relatively low tax rates and relatively high academic performance from local schools.

What happens at Cobb schools has a direct impact on your children’s education and an indirect impact on our community and home values.

We believe our community has three choices to maintain our high quality of education and the ongoing commitment to the children.

1. Bonds can be issued and we must be willing to accept debt and required interest payments.

2. An increase in property taxes to raise funding is a possibility

3. Or we can vote yes to continue the education SPLOST.

With a sales tax, those who do not pay property tax and/or live out of the county, but work and play in Cobb, will support our schools by paying a significant portion of the ED-SPLOST.

Estimates say 30 percent or more of the revenue comes from those who do not pay property taxes.

The United 4 Kids Campaign would like for you to vote YES for the continuation of the education SPLOST.

Vote Yes — for no new taxes

Vote Yes — for continued economic development

Vote Yes — for continued community pride and good property values

Vote Yes — for a continued commitment to the children in our community

A Vote Yes is saying you want to continue a healthy debt free school district.

John Loud

Jay Cunningham

Co-Chairs, UNITED 4 KIDS
Comments
(5)
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Concerned citizen
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March 17, 2013
It is instructive that it is just assumed that the school system must keep spending (3 options: debt, tax increase, or splost)...

SPLOSTs never seem to have an expiration date - once the last one is complete, we just tack on another. Perhaps school districts could tighten their proverbial belt buckle a little tighter or prioritize their spending like the rest of us do when the economy is down.
West Cobb
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March 17, 2013
Here's the problem... the school system has an acute case of scope creep. They've allowed their mission and job to expand from providing a solid academic education to... trying to be all things to all people. Providing a solid academic education costs money. Trying to be all things to all people costs a lot of money and that's the problem with this vote for an education SPLOST. We've not had public debate on the role of education in our community. Instead, we the taxpayer are just told... we need more money... 'For the Children.' What does that really mean? Does it mean more reading, writing and math, or does that mean more extra-curricula activities? As a tax payer I think we need a public debate to better understand the mission and job of the school system and the real cost of that operating that system. I think we need to stop the scope creep.
Pat H
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March 17, 2013
Please MDJ - explain the connection of Mr. Loud (Loud Security Systems) and Mr. Cunningham (Superior Plumbing).

If I stood to gain financially from SPLOST money, I would be singing its praises as well.

Have someone on a tight budget step up and explain how difficult it is to continue to pay an extra one percent tax on everything they need who also believes that the list of projects proposed make sense.
I agree
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March 18, 2013
Pat H, excellent point...plus I will NEVER vote for anything this board supports after how they treated the majority in favor of the superior balanced calendar.
anonymous
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March 17, 2013
Hardly a convincing argument. All you do is regurgitate your Chamber of Commerce tuxedo talking points.

District bureaucrats have grown too dependent on this new tax and no longer can figure out how to stay within a budget. Even basics such as textbooks are now purchased with SPLOST money, and they don't know how to go back to living within their means. Schools and principals are run with an eye towards gaining favor with the SPLOST decision makers, giving those bureaucrats way too much influence over real educators. SPLOST causes more politics and less real benefits to the students. I'm voting no.

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