The SPLOST — Local voters did right thing
March 21, 2013 12:00 AM | 3131 views | 11 11 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb and Marietta school officials — and many parents and other school supporters as well — are breathing a big sigh of relief late this week thanks to the passage by voters Tuesday of an extension of the 1 percent Ed-SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education.

The tax will be levied for five years and is expected to raise $773.3 million for the two local districts between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.

Its passage was anything but a given. The economy remains challenging — tax referendums are a tough sell even when times are good — and anti-tax fever is running at an all-time high here, thanks in part to the work of local tea partiers. In addition, there was growing criticism that elected officials have come to see SPLOST revenue as an entitlement; “easy money,” so to speak. SPLOST referendums seem to come with regularity these days. Others were irked that the schools scheduled the SPLOST referendum as a costly “stand-alone” vote, rather than scheduling it to coincide with a general election or primary. Still others complained that a disproportionate amount of the proceeds from the proposed SPLOST would go to build school gyms and theaters rather than classrooms and the like.

But the pro-SPLOST faction, marching under the banner of the “United 4 Kids,” countered with arguments of their own. The SPLOST had to be scheduled when it was in order to avoid a lapse in tax collections, they said; said that a disproportionate amount of the SPLOST revenue would be paid by commuters and visitors to our county; and warned that if the SPLOST were rejected that a bond referendum would likely follow.

As it is, the Cobb system is debt free, thanks to past SPLOSTs. And passage of Tuesday’s SPLOST will allow them to continue to be debt free, and allow the Marietta system to finally become debt free as well. No more seeing huge chunks of money going into the pockets of bankers and bond lawyers, in other words.

The pro-SPLOST forces had the more persuasive argument, if the poll results are any indication. Fifty-seven percent of the 40,565 votes cast were in favor of continuing the tax. Forty-three percent opposed it.

“My cheeks are a little sore from smiling so much,” said John Loud, co-chair with Jay Cunningham of United 4 Kids, at Tuesday night’s victory party at Willie Rae’s on Marietta Square. “The voters came out today to show their support,” Loud said. “Maybe the project list isn’t 100 percent the best for everybody, but as you look at the picture as a whole, it’s the right direction for the kids, community and economy.”

Indeed it is. And local voters deserve credit for taking that direction.

Comments
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Jim Warren
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March 22, 2013
Why are my follow-up comments on this and the Strand story not being published? THey are well within guidelines.
Bubba Jones
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March 21, 2013
ESPLOT won by 5,031 votes. Those folks just raised everyones taxes in Cobb County. After reading all I could on ESPLOT it appears to be a jobs program not an educational program. Folks, the money is not being spent in the classrooms nor for more teachers. Maybe those 5,031 voters should have read where Cobb County is planning to spend our money. It is not the ESPLOT 1%, it is that 1% on top of other SPLOT 1%, other county taxes, state tax, etc. So, now because of financial mismanagement Cobb is asking all Cobb citizens to live on less than they were able to just so Cobb can spend more. Sad
casual observer
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March 21, 2013
Bubba, all it takes is 1 vote to win or lose. Get over it.
getacluebubba
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March 21, 2013
To Bubba Jones: "Mr. Madison, (Mr. Bubba Jones) what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul!"

It's ESPLOST, not ESPLOT. This was not a tax increase, the tax rate stays the same. You live under a rock if you think it was ever earmarked for teacher's salaries, as the list of projects is public record. No secrets. Thank heavens we have the SPLOST to keep us debt free and our property values stay strong. Bless your heart.
@ Bubba Jones
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March 21, 2013
5,031 votes didn't get ESPLOST passed. 23,248 votes did.

Taxes were not raised. Before the vote, Cobb's sales tax was 6%. After the vote Cobb's tax rate will still be 6%.

SPLOST funds capital expenditures. It cannot fund teacher salaries.

Tell us your specific examples about "financial mismanagement" and offer your solutions.

VFP42
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March 22, 2013
ON PAPER the ESplost is not for classrooms or for teachers. It is for LIBERAL arts theaters and gymnasiums (title 9). However, when the existing not-splost budget has $80 million for a theater, but then ESplost pays for the theater, through the indirection, ESplost bought $80 million of whatever Glover Street wants.
Mr. P
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March 21, 2013
Devlin...what do you mean? Are you saying the anti-SPLOST voters have common sense? Please explain, because the SPLOST makes perfect sense to me and is a great benefit to our county and our schools.
Devlin Adams
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March 21, 2013
Once again, apathy by voters and lies/half truths by pro forces win out over common sense and facts.
Hobnail Boot
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March 21, 2013
Those sure are some sour grapes there Devlin. Funny how it is always the winning side that tells lies and half truths, while the loser's "facts" - facts that are clean and pure as the driven snow - are somehow ignored. It couldn't really be that voters listened to the facts and arguments of both sides and decided that the ESPLOST was a good investment for our community. And it sure is a shame that common sense never wins. Then again, if the majority consistently votes against your notion of common sense, perhaps your sense isn't so common.
@ Devlin Adams
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March 22, 2013
Do you support the Cobb Taxpayer Association robo-call lie that attempted to scare seniors by telling them that by passing SPLOST it was a trick to eliminate the senior exemption?

Please tell us it ain't so....
Devlin Adams
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March 22, 2013
Hobnail, tell me, did you fall for the BS that 1/3 of this revenue is coming from non- residents? Or did you fall for the lie that it is "for the kids"? Or did you fall for the lie that this was a list of essentials? Or did oyu fall for all three of them?

The fact is that nobody has a handle on how much sales tax is collected from non-residents.

The fact is that few of the projects on the list are going to benefit the education of our children, unless you think schools should be training grounds for the NBA, or broadway.

Fact, 6 gymansiums and 5 performing arts centers are far from "essentials".

The real story is that there were not enough people with common sense to outweigh the 14,000

puppet votes of the Cobb County school district employees and the massive media propaganda blitz put on by the Chamber of Commerce stooges, who stand to benefit from the work tio be done with our money, along with the illegal aliens who will be drawing their pay from your money and sending most of it to Mexico.

You really did drink a large glass of the CCSD Kool-aid, didn't you.

There is none so blind as he who will not see.
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