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Providing new schools, classrooms, and technology for learning is a major challenge for any school district. Troup County has been successful, however, thanks to a penny in sales tax the voters made available to the school district a number of years ago. The Troup County Board of Education wants to keep the improvements going by continuing the “E-SPLOST” now in place, so the Board is asking voters to extend it for five more years in a referendum set for March 16.
What is an Education SPLOST (ESPLOST)?
ESPLOST stands for Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. It is NOT a property tax and it is NOT a new tax, it is a continuation of an existing one-cent sales tax on all retail purchases in Troup County. The ESPLOST helps to reduce property taxes.
It provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements that everyone pays, not just property owners. This is important because sales tax is paid by everyone who shops or stays in Troup County, including the estimated 3.5 million annual visitors, contribute to the support of our local schools. Approximately 30-40% of the sales tax is paid by people who live outside of Troup County. This takes a huge burden off of Troup County taxpayers.
What can the ESPLOST funds be used for?
By Georgia law, the funds can only be used for capital improvements. It cannot be used to pay salaries of any school system employee or purchase instructional materials. The money can be used to:
- Build new schools and facilities
- Purchase new school buses
- Upgrade technology
- Provide safety and security measures
- Improve existing schools and facilities (HVAC, roofs, paving, cafeteria equipment, etc.)
What are the proposed projects for this ESPLOST?
- A new Rosemont Elementary School
- A performing arts facility for Callaway High School
- A major overhaul of the LaGrange High School Auditorium
- Additions to Hogansville Elementary School
- New school buses
- Technology upgrades and infrastructure
What has ESPLOST been used for in the past?
Many worthwhile projects have been funded by ESPLOST, such as:
- Callaway Elementary, Middle and High Schools
- LaGrange and Troup High Athletic Facilities
- Callaway High Indoor Practice Facility
- Franklin Forest Elementary School
- Troup High Performing Arts Center
- Clearview Elementary School
- Ethel W. Kight Elementary School
- THINC College and Career Academy
- Safety measures at each school
- Technology purchases
- School buses
What happens if ESPLOST doesn’t pass?
The goal of the Troup County School System is to ensure all students have access to learning environments that meet their academic needs. These environments need to be safe, comfortable and conducive to learning. If the current ESPLOST extension does not pass, several things could happen. Enhanced safety features will be placed on hold until funds are available. Building enhancements, like new flooring or heating and air additions, will be eliminated. New technology that keeps our students prepared for the diverse and changing world will not be purchased.
Without an ESPLOST the system would be forced to issue school bonds for its capital needs. By law, school bonds are paid exclusively from property taxes. In short property owners have to step in to pay the bonds. The ESPLOST collects funds equally from property owners, non-property owners and non-residents of Troup County who spend money in our county.
In addition, property taxes would have to increase to pay for needed facility improvements or equipment. Various projects would not be completed, resulting in lost opportunities for TCSS students and staff.
If ESPLOST does not pass, the community loses – property taxpayers, Troup County citizens, TCSS students and staff, and local businesses.
My property taxes just went up, so you want me to vote for another tax?
This is not an additional sales tax or property tax. The one-percent sales tax is already in place so it is a continuation of the current penny sales tax for education. It will not change the existing sales or property tax for Troup County. By law it must be renewed every five years. That is why the community is seeing it again.
So who pays into ESPLOST?
Everyone who spends money in Troup County, even visitors – that’s why it is an important sales tax. Approximately 30-40% of sales tax is paid by people who live outside of Troup County. This takes a huge burden off of Troup County residents, while helping to fund our local school system and economy.
For instance, if a visitor is passing through Troup County and stops for gas or something to eat at a local restaurant, they are paying into ESPLOST. If there is a bass fishing tournament at West Point Lake and the participants stay, shop, eat and fill up their tank in Troup County, they are paying into ESPLOST as well.
Why do we need to extend our current ESPLOST?
We need to extend the current ESPLOST for three reasons:
- This is a sales tax continuation, not a new sales tax. The main purpose is to continue improving school facilities, upgrade security and technology, and provide a great learning environment for our students and staff. For example, TCSS was able to build Clearview Elementary using funds from ESPLOST. TCSS was also able to re-tile Troup High School’s interior with new flooring, pressure wash LaGrange High and Hollis Hand, and enhance several cafeteria’s through ESPLOST funding.
- ESPLOST also generates local business for Troup County. For instance, during the building of new schools like Clearview Elementary and the athletic facilities at Troup High and LaGrange High, TCSS was able to hire local contractors who completed about 70% of the work, which helped stimulate the local economy.
- ESPLOST can only be used to improve facilities, purchase equipment and update technology. It cannot be used to offset personnel or salary costs.
I don’t have kids in the school system, so why does it matter if Troup County has an ESPLOST or not?
The ESPLOST extension keeps PROPERTY taxes stable. The entire community benefits from a quality school system with good facilities, updated technology, and enhanced safety. The social and economic strength of the community are greatly influenced by the school system.
Quality schools mean well prepared citizens, a strong labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for business and industry, as well as an improved quality of life for our citizens. In addition, during construction projects, much of the work is completed by local contractors, which stimulates the local economy.
So you use local vendors for projects?
Yes, TCSS employs local vendors on projects. The school system believes it is important to support local businesses and the economy in this manner. It is a benefit to the community and the school system. For instance, during the building of new schools like Clearview Elementary and the athletic facilities at Troup High and LaGrange High, TCSS was able to hire local contractors who completed about 70% of the work, which helped stimulate the local economy.
Who decides what projects are included in ESPLOST?
TCSS administrators have been working with school principals and staff to determine a list of needed improvements vs. wanted improvements. The list was very lengthy and included items for safety, technology, facility enhancements, school renovations and/or expansions. The cost amounted to over $100 million.
From there, we identified the most critical projects to place on the ESPLOST docket. These projects include safety/camera upgrades, a new elementary school, a new auditorium, school renovations, technology refresh, etc. For a complete list of approved projects, visit troup.org and select the ESPLOST tab at the top of the page.
How much did we collect during previous ESPLOST's?
- ESPLOST I ($42.7 Million)
- ESPLOST II ($46 Million)
- ESPLOST III ($55.4 Million)
- ESPLOST IV ($57 Million)
- ESPLOST V ($63 Million projected)
How much are we proposing to collect this ESPLOST?
We are projecting to collect $80 Million for ESPLOST VI. For a complete list of approved projects, visit troup.org and select the ESPLOST tab at the top of the page.
When is the ESPLOST vote?
The election is Tuesday, March 16. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting will be Monday, February 22, 2021 – Friday, March 12, 2021.
Is our student enrollment continuing to grow?
As of January 2021, TCSS enrolled 200 additional students compared to the same timeframe in January 2020.
This FAQ is for information purposes only. We encourage all Troup County School System stakeholders to be informed and to vote on March 16, 2021.