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Bulloch Voters Approve ESPLOST IV
Posted 11/7/17

ESPLOST AdvertisementBulloch County affirmed the Board of Education's referendum to continue the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax with a vote of 2,953 in favor to 694 against. The unofficial results were posted Nov. 7, with all precincts reporting.

 

"We are very excited about the opportunities this (ESPLOST) provides us," said Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson.  "We are very appreciative of the trust and support this community has provided us."

 

The current ESPLOST III will expire on Dec. 31, 2018, and ESPLOST IV will run Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2023. 

The new ESPLOST will be used to fund capital improvements identified by two community committees. A complete list of projects can be found at www.bullochschools.org/ESPLOST

 

The projects, which were identified by principals, will provide necessary improvements to the district's 15 schools and two alternative learning centers in the following areas: safety and security upgrades; instructional and technology resources; buildings and land; and equipment and vehicles.

 

ESPLOST IV collections of about $850,000 per month will begin flowing to the school system on Feb. 28, 2019. Current ESPLOST III revenue will be received through Dec. 2018. According to Troy Brown, the district's chief financial officer, those funds are fully dedicated to repaying the principal and interest on bonds that were issued in previous years for school construction and renovation projects.  All prior bonds will be paid-in-full by ESPLOST III collections, so all ESPLOST IV funds will go directly to the new identified projects.

 

The Board of Education will now have two options: (1) issue up to $40 million in bonds either before or after ESPLOST IV collections begin in Jan. 2019; or (2) utilize a pay-as-you-go method of completing projects as revenue is collected monthly.

 

If the BOE issued bonds it could act on key projects much sooner and lock in a low interest rate; however, the disadvantages to that choice are bond issuance costs and and the reduction of revenue to complete projects due to bond costs.

 

If the BOE decides on the pay-as-you-go method instead of issuing bonds, 100 percent of the revenue will be used for projects and no funds will be used for bond issuance fees. The disadvantage is that projects will take longer to begin and end as the district waits for monthly collections. 

 

Since 2003 the BOE has used leveraged Bulloch County’s growth as a regional retail sales and tourism hub to fund capital improvement needs for local public schools. ESPLOSTs reduce the need or extent of property taxes or future millage rate increases. E-SPLOSTs also cause the tax burden to be shared more fairly among property and non-property owners.

 

Voters in 2003 were the first to affirm a referendum to establish a one-penny E-SPLOST. In 2005 and 2009, voters agreed to extend the tax to continue the investment in public school infrastructure. Each of the three previous E-SPLOSTs were affirmed by Bulloch County voters by more than 90 percent.

 

The three previous E-SPLOSTs generated approximately $148 million. This allowed the BOE to successfully complete these and other projects: build six new schools; renovate and expand seven additional schools; build three high school athletic complexes; partner with the Statesboro Bulloch County Parks & recreation facility to build the Mill Creek Regional Park Tennis Center  and upgrade the softball and baseball facilities for school and SBCP&RD use; meet the demands of a digital age by providing faculty and students with instructional technology, wireless Internet infrastructure, increased Internet bandwidth and fiber connections; improved the district’s telecommunications system and information systems support; and add additional buses to the school system’s fleet for the daily transport of more than 5,400 children.