Co-Chair Jerome Tucker emphasized that ESPLOST helping public schools also helps economic development. See below for who we now know are the committee members for the Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST). It’s mysterious why that information wasn’t in the PR before the meeting, but now we know, since Gretchen went and took the videos and collected the flyers you’ll find below.
Early voting already started that same day and continues through March 13th, with the final Election Day 17 March 2015.
Lowndes/Valdosta Citizens for Excellence in Education
Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax
For Lowndes County Schools and Valdosta City Schools
John Eunice, Co-Chair
Jerome Tucker, Co-Chair
Will Kemp, Treasurer
Lisa Aguero Willie Houseal Barbara Slucumb Sam Allen Mike “Nub” Nelson Ben Smith Katherine Courson Alyssa Pate Brian Sumner Dan Davis Suzan Prince Susan Sumner Jason Dove Marty Rodgers Fred Wetherington Heather Ferguson Jeff Sikes Jeff Wooley Tim Golden
ESPLOST V KlCKOFF/PRESS CONFERENCE
February 24, 2015
Valdosta City Hall Annex
300 N. Lee Street
Welcome Jerome Tucker, John Eunice Opening Remarks Brian Browning, Chair the of Lowndes BOE
Vanassa Flucas, Chair of the Valdosta BOE
ESPLOST V Overview Mr. E. Martin Roesch, Valdosta City Superintendent
Mr. Wes Taylor, Lowndes County Superintendent
Adjourn John Eunice, Jerome Tucker
ELECTION: March 17, 2015 — 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
EARLY VOTING: February 23 — March 13, 2015
Here’s a video playlist:
Videos: ESPLOST V kickoff meeting
ESPLOST V Kickoff Meeting, Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST),
Jerome Tucker, John Eunice,
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 N. Lee Street, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 24 February 2015.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an Education SPLOST (ESPLOST)? An Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) allows local school districts the option to ask the voters for the ability to levy and collect a one percent sales tax to fund school facility and equipment improvements. It can be used to pay for capital projects or to retire debt. The penny collected spreads the responsibility of educating our children to all citizens and visitors of our community-anyone who spends money in Valdosta and Lowndes County is funding the ESPLOST.
- When is the ESPLOST vote? Tuesday, March 17, 2015 is the Election Day. The polls will be open from 7:00 am. to 7:00 pm. Early Voting: February23— March 13, 2015
- Would the proposed ESPLOST be a tax increase? NO! If approved, the sales tax would simply remain at its current level. A “yes” vote would basically extend the current 1% sales tax for education for an additional five years or until $135 million (total for Valdosta City Schools and Lowndes County Schools) has been collected whichever comes first. Collection of the ESPLOST extension would begin only after the current ESPLOST ends September 30, 2017.
- Why do we need to extend our current ESPLOST? The Valdosta City Schools Board of Education has made, many improvements in school facilities with the previous ESPLOST. If the citizens approve to extend the current ESPLOST, funds will be used to construct a new Valdosta High School Complex; complete the additions, renovations, and modifications to existing elementary and middle schools; purchase instructional materials and textbooks; and purchase school buses for the district. Our citizens have actively supported education for a number of years, and the passage of this ESPLOST would be a strong demonstration of continued school support by our community.
- Why an ESPLOST? The ESPLOST is not a property tax. lt provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements that everyone, not just property owners, contributes. Additionally, the sales tax is paid by everyone who shops or stays in Valdosta and Lowndes County, including our numerous visitors. Research indicates that over half of the funds raised from sales tax collections come from non—residents of our community.
- What would the school system do with the money raised from the ESPLOST extension? As stated previously, the Board of Education would continue facility and equipment improvements. A new Valdosta High School Complex would be built; additions, renovations and modifications would take place at all Valdosta City Schools’ facilities to include, but not limited to, all elementary and middle schools. The Board would also purchase new technology, school buses, textbooks, instructional materials, band equipment, athletic upgrades, and safety & security equipment.
- How much money would be raised and how long would this sales tax be in place? The ESPLOST extension for Valdosta City and Lowndes County is for a limit of $135 million or 5 years, whichever comes first. The sales tax revenue is divided between the two school systems based on enrollment. Valdosta City Schools expects to receive up to a maximum of $58,860,000.00 from the Valdosta/Lowndes ESPLOST.
- Why is the school system proposing to sell bonds in the ESPLOST extension? By selling bonds, the school system will be able to immediately address some of its most dire needs. Bond money would allow the system to start construction on several projects instead of waiting for the proceeds to be collected.The sale of bonds also helps lock out construction cost inflation as presently interest rates are very favorable.
- Has the current ESPLOST been a success? YES! The current ESPLOST has provided for construction and equipping of the new Pinevale Elementary School, the construction of a new gym and athletic fields atJ.L. Newbern Middle School, renovations and modifications, at all schools, the purchase of new technology system-wide, textbooks, instructional materials, and school buses.
- Why would people who do not have children in the school system support the ESPLOST extension? The ESPLOST extension helps keep ad valorem taxes stable. Additionally, the children are not the only ones who benefit from good schools. The social and economic strength of a community are greatly influenced by the school system. Good schools mean well-prepared citizens, a stronger labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for living and working. One of the key questions asked by industrial, commercial and/or residential prospects looking to move into a community is, “What is the quality of the schools in the community?”
- Why have a special election March 17, 2015, rather than waiting to vote on the ESPLOST during a general election? The Board desires to have a seamless collection of sales tax revenues and wants to be able to move forward with the construction of the new Valdosta High School Project. Additionally, because the approval of an extension to our current ESPLOST is a critical issue for our school district, our Board of Education chose to have a stand—alone election so voters would be better informed and not confused by other issues on the ballot in a general election. Also, by voting now we will be able to move forward with the planning and construction of several projects, the main one being the completion of the new Valdosta High School Complex.
- Does the Lowndes County School System share in the collections of the ESPLOST and support the sales tax extension? YES! The collections of the educational sales tax are shared between the two systems based on the student enrollments of each district. The two school systems have worked together to plan the current ESPLOST. Both the Valdosta City School Board and the Lowndes County School Board strongly support the ESPLOST.
- Is the Valdosta City/Lowndes ESPLOST different from the Lowndes County Commission SPLOST? YES! The ESPLOST is a special purpose tax approved by the citizens exclusively for improving and/or building school facilities, purchasing instructional supplies, technology, equipment, and vehicles; and for improving safety/security measures. The county/city SPLOST is a special purpose tax designed to fund projects identified by the Lowndes County Commissioners and the Valdosta City Council.
- What would happen if the ESPLOST did not pass? The Valdosta City Schools Board of Education has no desire to increase property taxes in order to build a new high school and to make the other improvements necessary to mdve the district forward; however, withoiit the passage of an ESPLOST most, if not all, of the proposed projects will not be accomplished. Consequently, there would be many lost opportunities for students, now, and in the future; as to delay the projects would result in greater costs to complete the projects in the future. Finally, if the ESPLOST does not pass the only way to complete the projects listed would be through a property tax increase.
- What is to become of the old Valdosta High School and the Performing Arts Center? The old Valdosta High School will provide future options for multiple uses by the system. The Performing Arts Center will continue to be used as it is currently being used today.
- Will a new football stadium be built? There are currently no plans to relocate the stadium; however, enough land was purchased to accommodate a stadium should there be a desire to do so in the future. No funds have been proposed in ESPLOST for this purpose.
- Will the Board need to ask for future ESPLOSTs? Yes, because it will take more than one ESPLOST to complete the entire Valdosta High School Complex project. In addition to the High School Project there are ongoing projects that will require continued support by ESPLOST. If we do not have ESPLOST these projects can only be completed through a property tax increase.