What is ESPLOST?
ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) is a one percent sales tax on all retail sales in Schley County. It can be used to pay for capital projects or to retire debt. It cannot be used to pay operating expenses and may only be enacted by local referendum.
Would this be a sales tax increase?
No. If approved, the current tax rate would continue. ESPLOST cycles are 5 years. The current one percent sales tax would end September 30, 2022. This would renew another ESPLOST cycle.
Why is there a need to continue with ESPLOST?
Currently, Schley County Schools qualifies for project specific low wealth funding. In order to maximize funding and make necessary renovations and improvements to Schley County Middle High School, the ESPLOST is needed to maintain and upgrade the main building.
When will Schley County vote on the referendum?
An election will be held March 16, 2021. Polls will be open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Early voting will run February 22nd through March 12th.
How much money could the ESPLOST expect to generate over the next 5 years?
With assumed growth (6%), the SPLOST could earn 2.5 million. With no growth (remain steady), the SPLOST would earn 1.8 million.
Why is the school system proposing to sell bonds in the ESPLOST extension?
By selling bonds, the school system could begin planning and accomplish the necessary projects immediately. Otherwise, projects would need to be delayed until funding is generated. The sale of bonds also helps lock construction costs and present interest rates are favorable.
Will ESPLOST need to be renewed in future years?
Yes. ESPLOST will need one other renewal to have the necessary funds to help retire the proposed bond debt. Depending on factors such as growth rate of sales tax, the bonds could be paid off sooner.
Will any SPLOST funds be used for teacher salaries or instructional materials?
No. State law prohibits using ESPLOST for salaries and instructional materials. It can be used to pay for new buildings and/or improvements to existing facilities.
What types of improvements are being prioritized for the middle high school?
New roof, HVAC, 4 classroom addition, secure front entry (relocate entryway classroom and improve front office space), emergency generator replacement, paint/ tile/ new ceiling commons areas, LED lighting.
What will happen if the ESPLOST were not to pass?
Projects would remain prioritized. The scope of work would proceed at a much slower rate as funds were generated. Some projects would not be accomplished. Without ESPLOST, to accomplish critical facility needs would require additional property tax increases.
How will the ESPLOST dollars be used?
This referendum also includes the sale of bonds. If passed, 3.9 million would be generated from the bonds. ESPLOST would continue to be used to retire bond debt. Planning and alignment of the construction process would begin immediately. The school board would work to create a calendar that allowed a longer or extended summer window for the summer of 2022. Priority would be given to completing the roof replacement with the HVAC replacement (located on the roof) while students are off campus for the summer. The entryway and classroom renovations would also be scheduled during summer shut down. Classroom additions would likely be accomplished (at least partially) while school is in session.
What other funds are used to repay bond debt?
Schley County has a local 2 mill tax option that generates $256,000 per year. The local 2 mill option with the benefit of ESPLOST is used to make current bond payments and if approved would continue to make new payments.
Is this project adding new taxes to Schley County?
No. The current one-cent sales tax and 2 mill tax option have been in place since 1999.