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School board to start lining up E-SPLOST list items
Shearouse Randy 2
Randy Shearouse

Effingham County school board members will start putting together a list for the next round of the education special purpose local option sales tax.

“The time for another E-SPLOST is here,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said.

If the school board approves a list of projects for the next E-SPLOST round, it likely will go on the ballot Nov. 3. While there are no countywide elections this year, all three cities will have municipal elections.

Shearouse told board members at their meeting Monday night they didn’t have to come up with a list that evening — but it is something he would like for them to think about before their next meeting.

“We’re still well within that timeline,” he said.

Potential projects for the next E-SPLOST include a new science, technology, engineering and math academy and a new Rincon Elementary School.

“We feel like SPLOST and bond revenues would allow us to have the cash flow to move forward with the STEM academy and the new Rincon Elementary,” Shearouse said.

Board members selected a construction management firm for the planned new Rincon Elementary, which will be built off Fort Howard Road. Construction on a new Rincon Elementary could start as soon as January 2016, with the school projected to open for the 2017-18 school year.

The current Rincon Elementary was built in 1962.

School board members also approved last month an addition to the Effingham College and Career Academy for classrooms and labs to support the STEM program. That addition is expected to be ready for the start of the 2016-17 school year.

The current SPLOST started in July 2012 and will end in June 2017. Through nearly three years, it has brought in $22 million, about $81,000 under projections. The current E-SPLOST was estimated to generate from $6 million-$8 million a year.

The E-SPLOST passed in 2010 with 58.2 percent of voters approving it.

The school system collected more than $568,000 in SPLOST receipts for May, down from the May 2014 figure of $628,000. For June, the school system brought in $544,000 in sales tax proceeds.

“It’s declining a little bit,” school system finance director Ron Wilson said, “but we expect that to turnaround.”

The school system’s expenditures through 11 months of the previous budget year are about $450,000 above revenues.

“Even though it is negative, it is encouraging,” Wilson said. “We’ve got more revenue coming in, more tag and title fees and more property tax. We’ve been able to hold the line on expenses.”

The school system’s fiscal year 2015 budget called for $24.7 million in property tax revenue. May’s collections of $2.1 million put the total to that date at $23.2 million. Wilson said the school system collected around $1 million for June.

“That number has improved dramatically,” he said.

The collections for tag and title fees topped $1.4 million, surpassing the budgeted intake of $1.2 million, Wilson reported.