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What is an Education SPLOST (ESPLOST)?
ESPLOST stands for Education Special Local Option Sales Tax. It is the option for a local school district to call for a referendum to approve a one-percent sales tax to help fund school improvements and updates. Some examples are constructing a new school, purchasing technology-related equipment, purchasing safety-related equipment, updating a school (roof repair, adding HVAC system, updating cafeteria equipment, etc.), and purchasing new model buses.
Can the funds collected be used for paying our teachers more money?
By Georgia law, the funds can only be used for operational purposes and expenses. It cannot be used to pay salaries of any school system employee.
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. It has to be posted for voting 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. It is paid by anyone who shops or stays in Troup County; including our visitors. 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.
Approximately 30% of sales tax is paid by people who live outside of Troup County. This takes a huge burden off of Troup County residents, but it helps the local school system and economy.
Why do we need to extend our current ESPLOST?
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 Ethel W. Kight 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 EKES, TCSS was able to hire local contractors who completed about 70% of the work, which helped stimulate the local economy. In addition, we were able to save tax payers roughly $3 Million by not bonding on the new school, which saved the taxpayers money.
We just closed schools, why do we need ESPLOST – can’t TCSS use the money saved from the school closings?
While TCSS did save $4.1 million by closing schools, this past year, $3.9 million of that was used to restore items that were previously cut from the overall budget. In order to develop spending plans without raising taxes, TCSS had to lower overall costs, which included reductions in programs, personnel and services.
ESPLOST can only be used to improve facilities, purchase equipment and update technology. It cannot be used to offset personnel or salary costs.
What will continuing the ESPLOST accomplish for Troup County?
Some of the big ticket items that money raised from ESPLOST will be used for is to:
Update and purchase security cameras for additional safety within schools
Build a new Whitesville Road Elementary
Build a new entrance to Rosemont Elementary and expand the school cafeteria
Build new athletic facilities at both LaGrange and Troup high schools
Update and purchase technology to better prepare students to live and work in a global, technologically-advance society
For a complete list of items, visit troup.org and select the ESPLOST tab
There are two new athletic facilities on the proposal. What is wrong with the ones we have?
Building relationships and providing relevant curriculum as well as extracurricular activities is important for student engagement and fostering relationships.
Currently, we have close to 600 students at Troup High who participate in athletic extracurricular activities. That is half of the student body. In addition, at LaGrange High, close to 900 students are involved and engaged in athletic extracurricular activities. Many of these students build relationships and work as a team during this valuable after school time.
Also, by providing state-of-the-art athletic facilities, Troup County can host athletic sporting events that many of our students and parents currently have to travel outside of the area to attend. Instead of our students and parents going to other counties for sporting events, others will be visitors to Troup County which will help provide local SPLOST dollars when they shop in the area.
I don’t have kids in the school system, so why does it matter if Troup County has an ESPLOST or not?
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 both living and working. 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. We think it’s important to support local businesses and the economy in this manner. It is a benefit to the community and the school system. For example, over 70% of the contracted work for Ethel W. Kight Elementary – the biggest construction project on the current ESPLOST - was completed by local contractors.
Who decides what projects are included in ESPLOST?
Last school year, TCSS administrators began 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, etc. The cost amounted to over $70 million.
We knew we had to pare the list down. To do so, we completed a facility analysis, worked with school administrators and presented the list to a task force made up of business leaders, parents and teachers. From there, we identified the most critical projects to place on the ESPLOST docket. These projects include safety/camera upgrades, a new elementary school, new gymnasiums, school renovations, technology refresh, etc. For a complete list of approved projects, visit troup.org and select the ESPLOST tab.
If ESPLOST does not pass on May 24, what would happen?
If the current ESPLOST extension did 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.
In addition, property taxes may have to increase to pay for needed improvements of facility or equipment. Various projects would not be completed, resulting in lost opportunities for TCSS students and staff. The community loses – property tax payers, Troup County citizens, TCSS students and staff, and local businesses.
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 ($59 Million projected – we are in the last months of this ESPLOST. We will
have final numbers after the final collection date of June 30, 2017 )
How much are we proposing to collect this ESPLOST?
We are projecting to collect $59 Million (projected) for ESPLOST V. For a complete list of projects, visit troup.org and select the ESPLOST tab.