13. Approval of E-SPLOST Joint Resolution and Intergovernmental Agreement to Continue E-SPLOST via May, 2016 Referendum
Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer
Georgia law provides individual counties and independent school districts within the county the opportunity to generate capital improvement funds by means of a Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The DeKalb County School District, City of Decatur Schools, and Atlanta Public Schools are connected geographically and must all approve a combined referendum to be presented to the voters in order to impose the E-SPLOST. A joint resolution has been developed calling for a referendum on the ballot in May, 2016 to continue the one percent sales and use tax within DeKalb County for educational purposes (E-SPLOST).
The referendum will outline categories of improvements for DeKalb County School District and the estimated revenue for a continued five-year collection of a 1% sales tax, up to $600 million, if approved by the voters in May 2016. The capital improvements will be funded by the E-SPLOST commencing on July 1, 2017, if approved by the voters in the May, 2016 special election.
The focus of the categories directly addresses our commitment to learning environments that are healthy and safe for our students and faculty. The main focus of the project categories is in the following areas: safety and security improvements; construction of new replacement schools, facilities and building additions; capital improvements of facilities; technology improvements;, replacement of capital equipment, transportation; and approval of the issuance of up to $200,000,000 of general obligation debt for the purpose of funding a portion of the projects with payments to be made from the E-SPLOST.
Jim McMahan, Board of Education
Can we get a breakdown of the anticipated costs of the election in the Friday communique?
Stan Jester, Board of Education
Can we break out management so we know how much management really is? Management and contingency are completely different.
We discussed that the percent capacity would be a priority driver especially as it pertains to Cross Keys. That would more than likely drive those projects to the top. Will other areas get swept up given those priorities. If that’s the case, then $230 million on new facilities and additions would get eaten up quickly. So, if over capacity is a major driver, won’t other schools find themselves on the project list just like Cross Keys?
During our Committee of the Whole we released our proposed strategy or list of criteria what the project list would look like. School capacity is one of them. Facility cut points are also a driver.
Dr. Stephen Green, Superintendent
It’s not restricted just to the Cross Keys Area. It’s currently the epicenter of over crowding. The flexibility is written into this so we can go wherever the growth is.
Ultimately, it seems like there are still a lot of questions out there. We’re just not sure what the weight of these drivers are. We’re not positive if Henderson MS at 140% capacity will be addressed, or how much Cross Keys will be addressed.
We’re asking for over half a billion dollars, potentially $600 million, from the tax payers. In recent SPLOSTs we haven’t done things this way. We’ve created the project list. We have a plan to create that project list, but currently it’s after the referendum. It is possible to start SPLOST V next July on schedule and have the project list and then vote on the referendum come next May. So this isn’t an emergency that it has to get done this May. With the lack of … not knowing exactly what’s going to happen and it’s $600 million, this generally isn’t how we do things.
Are we going to get briefed on what the school district and employees are allowed to stay, what is permissible … behavior wise … regarding the SPLOST V referendum
We’re going to provide talking points for the board members as well as staff members and where the boundaries are with regards to providing information as opposed to promoting or advocating which staff is not allowed to do.
Jim McMahan, Board of Education
I have received a lot of email asking for clarity. I would request this to be an action item.
Dr. Joyce Morley, Board of Education
I’m not going to belabor the, but most certainly we’ve discussed looking at the timeliness of going with all the other districts as opposed to next year. I think sometimes when you’re isolated, out on your own, you’re taking a big change. So, I think it behooves us to go ahead.
As you’re asking the question, would we have the information. Dr. Green we met, that there would be information. Everything would be explained to the public. We would also have the information that we needed so that we could seem confidently involved in what was going on and be able to secure a basis and a reason why we’re going at this particular time.
In looking at the research and everything that we’ve done, it seems that going in as this group would make it a lot more plausible than just coming up on our own arbitrarily at another particular date. I would not want to see us wait another year to be able to do this.
— THE VOTE —
Mr. Joshua L. Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Division of Operations, requested that the Board of Education (a) approve a joint resolution with the City of Decatur Schools and Atlanta Public Schools calling for a May, 2016 Referendum to authorize the re-imposition of the SPLOST for an additional five years; and (b) approve the IGA for the provision of the election services by the DeKalb County Board of Registrations and Elections.
On a motion by Mr. Orson, seconded by Mrs. Turner, and with a 5\2 vote, with Mr. Orson, Dr. Erwin, Dr. Johnson, Mrs. Turner and Dr. Morley voting yes, and Mr. Jester and Mr. McMahan voting no, the motion passed.