Paulding school district officials foresee paying off some debt and building and renovating schools if county residents vote to approve the money through a renewed sales tax in November.
The same ballot question Nov. 5 will ask voters to approve issuance of $30 million in bonds to provide the funds to immediately begin construction on a new northeast Paulding middle school and other projects.
The Paulding County Board of Education earlier this month unanimously voted to approve placing a referendum on the Nov. 5 countywide ballot asking voters if they want to renew the school district’s 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for another five years.
Some board members said at the July 9 meeting they were glad a consumption tax rather than a property tax could be used to pay off the bond debt needed to build schools during a time of rapid growth countywide last decade.
Board member Glen Albright said he hoped voters “do realize it’s a necessary thing” for today’s needs as well.
“This is the money that’s going to be used to build the new schools as needed and do necessary renovations at other schools,” Albright said.
Board members John Dean and Chairman Jeff Fuller said the district needed to find a way to pay off its bond debt — $86 million alone from a 2014 bond issue — or it will continue a cycle of using sales tax to pay back loans rather than school buildings.
The 1% sales tax now in place runs through March 31, 2021. Voters will be asked Nov. 5 to continue its collection from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2026 to raise up to $120 million.
Almost $41 million of the sales tax proceeds will be used to pay off part of the bond debt from the 2014 issue.
The remaining $79 million will be used for “acquisition, construction and equipping of facilities and equipment throughout the school district” to finance construction of a new school and additions and improvements to existing schools, as well as “technology enhancements, fine arts initiatives, safety and security upgrades, track, tennis, gym and other athletic facility improvements.”
It also will be used to pay off the new $30 million bond issue, the resolution stated.
School district officials want to use the bond funding to begin construction on a new McClure Middle School building at a site other than its present location adjacent to North Paulding High School off Harmony Grove Church Road.
The current McClure Middle School facility will be used as additional space for fast-growing North Paulding High. Officials believe construction of a new middle school will be considerably less costly than a new high school.
Government entities and school districts commonly use bonds to finance such capital projects as new or renovated buildings. The government’s taxing power is used to guarantee repayment to the entity or investors who are the source of the financing.
The resolution also states that if not enough sales tax is produced in the five-year period between 2021 and 2026 to pay off the new bonds, money from the school district’s general fund or an increase in property taxes will be used to make up the difference.
If approved, it will be the fifth time Paulding voters renewed the sales tax since they first chose to impose it in 1997, a news release stated.
Proceeds from the sales tax can be used only for capital needs and retiring long-term debt, according to state law.
Paulding school district officials have used E-SPLOST proceeds to build 21 new schools and 16 school additions; and do numerous renovations, classroom additions and maintenance projects, the release stated.