Sen. Fran Millar – Not a Fan of the E-SPLOST Language
Board Of Education
This past February, the Board of Education approved E-SPLOST V. On a motion by Mr. Orson, seconded by Mrs. Turner, and with a 5\2 vote, with Mr. Jester and Mr. McMahan voting no, the motion passed calling for a May, 2016 referendum to authorize a one cent sales tax for five years.
As reported by the AJC, “DeKalb County School District officials could face an uphill battle in May as they ask voters to approve [$500 – $600 million] in taxes for school improvements … While Fulton and Atlanta have provided a list of projects intended for their E-SPLOST dollars, DeKalb’s list is a work in progress.”
Last week State Senator Fran Millar relayed the numerous complaints he has received about the lack of a project list and his concerns about the possible vulnerabilities to a legal challenge in an open letter to Superintendent Green.
Superintendent Green Believes E-SPLOST V Language Meets Requirements (Apr 21, 2016)
Sen. Fran Millar – Not a Fan of the E-SPLOST Language (Apr 20, 2016)
Georgia State Senate, representing District 40
April 14, 2016
Dear Dr. Green, Over the years, I have always supported DeKalb County School ESPLOSTs. However, I expressed my concerns to your staff at the Dunwoody Homeowners meeting at Dunwoody High School about the upcoming vote with no specific projects.I have received numerous complaints about your category proposal with no specific projects and decided to seek legal counsel on the matter.The ESPLOST statute says as to SPLOST terms and conditions that they are to be followed “except as otherwise expressly provided in Article VIII, Section VI, Paragraph IV of the Constitution of Georgia”.
Article VIII, Section VI, Paragraph IV specifies the contents of the resolution calling for the tax:
“(c) The resolution calling for the imposition of the tax and the ballot question shall each describe:
(1) The specific capital outlay projects to be funded …..
(2) The maximum cost of such projects ….
“The specific projects requirement is constitutional. It would override the general purposes language in the SPLOST.
I have gone to the Attorney General, Legislative Counsel and former Governor Roy Barnes’ attorney for their thoughts.
Bottom line, I believe a legal challenge to your planned approach has a good chance of being successful based on the Constitution principles outlined above.
Furthermore, an ESPLOST must be held concurrently with any independent school system ESPLOST in the same county. Atlanta Public Schools are in Atlanta, DeKalb County, and Fulton County.
By not enumerating specific projects, DeKalb may also influence whether Atlanta and Fulton (which did it right) will be affected. Therefore, I have copied their respective Superintendents.
The concurrent requirement in the Constitution means if Atlanta and Fulton are allowed and pass, then DeKalb can do nothing for a number of years.
I strongly suggest you contact your peers and see if they would be willing to wait until next spring for a vote. This will give you time to determine the specific projects and hold your planned community meetings.
Finally, I believe the call for the election must be done by April 25th (29 days in advance) so action on your part is required as soon as possible.
I look forward to hearing how you plan to proceed. Hopefully, you can act in a prompt manner and avoid this potential disaster.
Senator Fran Millar
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