Home arrow NewsBreak arrow Montgomery BOE Calls for SPLOST Vote
Montgomery BOE Calls for SPLOST Vote
Tuesday, 03 August 2010

August 3--  The Montgomery County school board is asking voters to approve a one percent local option sales tax for education in November with the understanding that none of the money is to be used in the near future to build a new middle-high school.

Last year voters in the county voted against new school construction for fear it might result in increased school property taxes.

At its meeting Monday night, the board voted unanimously to put SPLOST on the ballot and at the same time asked county attorney Tom Everett to prepare a proclamation assuring voters the sales tax collections are not intended for a new school.

Board member Deloris James of Alston says she voted for the SPLOST because, "We were able to all decide unanimously to have our attorney develop a proclamation saying that the school board is putting any plans for new construction on hold until the people of Montgomery County demand a new school."

Even though the ballot language on the SPLOST will allow the school board to use sales tax money for "new or existing' facilities, School board chairman Randall Morris says its a moot point because any future school construction will require an up or down vote by citizens on the issuance of bonds to finance the construction.

"If it does come up again, we won't build a new school until we have a couple of things.  Number one you have to have the support of the folks in Montgomery County, and you're going to have to have a bond referendum which will have to be passed by the people of Montgomery County.  It's not going to happen without that," Morris promised.

Before the proclamation compromise was reached at the meeting, both James and board member Henry Price said their constituents were in no mood to vote for a SPLOST which could lead to new school construction.

School Superintendent Dr. Lynn Batten said he thought a unified board was needed in order for SPLOST to have a chance of passage in November.

Earlier, he has told the board, "My recommendation is to renew the existing SPLOST for another five year period in its current form, without any request for authorization for a bond or any other indebtedness, with the understanding that this board and the citizens of Montgomery County shall revisit the proposal of a new middle school and high school at a later date in the future when economic conditions improve and our funding sources and costs are more clearly defined."

The SPLOST is expected to raise $4.5 million for the school system during a five-year period.  Without it, officials agree a property tax increase will be required to keep the schools open.

Board member Jackson Posey warned the board there are some in the county who are discussing consolidating the county's school system with another school system.  He said failure to pass a SPLOST might "play right into their hands."   Chairman Morris said such a move would be "the end of Montgomery County as we know it." 

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