The Effingham County Board of Education applauded the vote last Tuesday that approved the next round of the educational special purpose local option sales tax.
Across the county, turnout was light but overwhelmingly in support of another round of the educational special purpose local option sales tax. Of 1,856 votes cast, 1,395 approved the extension of ESPLOST, more than 75 percent of those who voted.
“It certainly will help us do a lot for our school system,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse.
The passage of the ESPLOST will renew the additional penny sales tax for school system improvements and additions for another five years. The tax will be capped at $60 million. If that school system reaches that level, the collection of the tax ends. Through September, the current ESPLOST, ESPLOST IV, has garnered more than $24.7 million in three years.
The sales tax extension is expected to fund projects such as the construction of a new Rincon Elementary School and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics addition to the Effingham College and Career Academy.
Other ESPLOST-backed projects include a new fieldhouse at Effingham County High School, the purchase of additional buses and improvements to the tracks at both high schools. The school system also plans to put in new air condition units and other HVAC improvements at schools, purchase textbooks and acquire new technology.
“We always try to put out exactly what we use the money for,” said BoE Chairman Lamar Allen. “We advertised what we’re going to use it for, and that shows we are not misusing SPLOST funds.”
The school board also set its millage rate at 16.435, with no increase in property taxes. The millage rate had been 16.897 for 2012 and 2013 and was set at 16.408 last year. Having the additional penny tax also alleviates the need for higher property taxes, Allen noted.
“The only way we can do things like this, build buildings, support athletics, is by E-SPLOST,” he said. “We can’t use regular money for a lot of these projects. I think people realized a one cent is a whole lot better than their taxes going up by three mills or whatever.
“We’re blessed we’re able to have the ESPLOST from the public, and we’re able to do things and keep our school system better.”