Henry Board of Education wants to continue E-SPLOST

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Education voted Oct. 12 to call for a March 1, 2016 referendum on continuing its E-SPLOST for funding a variety of capital projects at schools across the county.

Of Henry County’s seven-cent sales tax taken for every dollar spent, one penny goes to the Board of Education through its special-purpose local option sales tax which is approved by voters for a maximum dollar amount and a set period of time. The school system has been through several E-SPLOST cycles over an 18-year span, and the school board hopes to see voter approval allow the new E-SPLOST to take effect as soon as the current one expires.

If approved, the new E-SPLOST would last five years (beginning Jan. 2018 and ending Dec. 2022) and collect up to $225 million. The resolution being proposed would also allow the school board to issue $325 million in bonds, the debt service of which would be paid by the E-SPLOST.

A long list of items is being touted on the resolution and proposed ballot question, including:

•A new high school and middle school in McDonough.
•A new performing arts center in the northern part of the county.
•A new distribution center.
•Improvements to existing athletic facilities such as turf fields at high schools and lighting at three middle schools.
•Software and technology improvements.
•Land for future schools.
•Buses and transportation equipment.
•Construction of a connector between Southern Crescent Technical College and the Academy for Advanced Studies.
•Construction of a new elementary school and a new central office facility if funds are available.

The full resolution, which can be seen on the Board of Education’s website, contains a number of details regarding the proposed bond issue such as interest rates and other financial information.

The first E-SPLOST was approved by voters in 1997 and collections started in 1998. It has been voted on three subsequent times, all winning approval. All four SPLOST cycles have been five years each.

While multiple E-SPLOST cycles have continued uninterrupted over the past decade, a bond referendum failed at the ballot box in early 2009.

The school system has operated for several years under the maximum 20 mills for maintenance and operation as well as 3.6 mills for bond service.