On March 21 voters will decide the fate of the renewal of the penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education for the Cobb and Marietta school systems. A positive SPLOST vote will allow for an expected $797 million in revenue beginning in 2019 spread over five years. SPLOST is a one-cent tax on all consumer goods that must be approved by voters in a referendum. Education SPLOST (Ed-SPLOST) receipts can be used only for school-related capital improvements. The current Ed-SPLOST expires Dec. 31, 2018.
“Some 30 percent of the sales tax will be paid by people who live outside Cobb, who come here to shop and dine,” said Susan Thayer, Smyrna area school board member. “Student population growth is going to be in the South Cobb area,” she said. The school system is expecting nearly a 2,000 student increase at Campbell High School and an additional 1,178 in the Mableton and Austell area. “We’ve got to get seats for these kids. If this does not pass, we will need to go to a bond issue,” she said.
Beginning January 1, 2019, SPLOST benefits to the southern Cobb area include funding for:
- Construction of new or replacement schools, including Harmony Leland Elementary, King Springs Elementary, and a Smyrna area new middle school to relieve overcrowding at Griffin and Campbell middle schools.
- Construction of additional classrooms at Campbell High and Pebblebrook High. This includes upgrading the cafeteria and building a new theater at Campbell.
- Security and technology upgrades at all Cobb County Schools.
The first Ed-SPLOST was approved in 1998 and since that time renewal of SPLOST has provided funding for 28 new schools, 2732 new classrooms, hundreds of maintenance improvements, safety improvements and many more improvements.
For more information go to cobbk12.org/splost/.
SPLOST funds pay for necessary repairs and for construction of new or replacement schools. About 90 percent of the district’s budget goes directly to support the classroom with payment of salaries for teachers, administrators, bus drivers, food service employees, custodians, and other staff. The other 10 percent pays for items such as textbooks and supplies, as well as utilities such as fuel, gas, electricity and water.
State funding and local property taxes do not provide for regular building maintenance or for technology enhancements. Prior to Ed-SPLOST, the district issued bonds that had to be paid back over many years with interest and resulted in a property tax increase.
Through Friday March 17), registered Cobb County voters can go to any advanced voting location. Please note that hours vary by location.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb 27 – March 17, Monday – Friday: Elections Office at the West Park Government Center, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta, 30064-4663
9 a.m. – 5 p.m., March 13 – 17, Monday – Friday at the following locations:
- East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta
- South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton
- Boots Ward Recreation Center (Lost Mountain Park), 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs
- NorthStar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road NW, Kennesaw
Any voter may apply for a vote-by-mail ballot instead of voting in-person. Applications are available at CobbElections.org. For more information call 770-528-2581.
From the March 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.