Vote “Yes” for ESPLOST today, Savannah

Please vote YES for the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) on Nov. 8, 2011. More info here.

Below is an Oct. 23 editorial from the Savannah Morning News about why we all need to vote for ESPLOST.

“ALL CHATHAM County voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to extend the current sales tax to support continued improvement in public schools.

We strongly encourage a “yes” vote. The biggest reasons are obvious: This is one tax where elected officials have kept their promises; they have the results to show for it.

Voters approved the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in 2006 and it went into effect in 2007. Of the $360 million in projected revenues, about $265 million was either spent or earmarked on new or replacement schools and school upgrades. Another $67 million went to pay off existing bond debt, with the remaining revenue budgeted for academic technology improvements.

What specifically did this extra penny buy?

There are new elementary and middle schools at Godley Station in the county’s westside. The other side of the county has a new islands high school.

Five schools are being replaced: Beach High, Oglethorpe Academy, Butler Elementary, Gadsden Elementary and Pulaski Elementary.

Classroom additions are either active or on the way for May Howard Elementary, Heard, Isle of Hope, Largo-Tibet, Windsor Elementary and Windsor High, with modifications at Hesse, Low, Mercer and White Bluff.

Voters were smart to approve this tax five years ago. But it will expire at the end of this year, unless the public decides to keep it for another five years or until it generates $330 million, whichever comes first.

We hope they do. Continuing ESPLOST means three things:

• Better facilities. This helps the learning process for about 35,000 students.

• Additional revenue to pay off the school system’s debt. This helps keep the pressure off the school board to raise property taxes.

• More jobs. This will help many local residents who work in the construction industry.

Here are more reasons to vote “yes.” About 40 percent of the sales tax is paid by people who live outside Chatham County. Everyone who shops and stays in the county, including commuters and Savannah’s numerous visitors, contribute. This shifts some of the financial burden for schools from the backs of property owners to others.

This is a good time to build projects. School officials can count on very competitive bids, which means lower costs. At the same time, local tradesmen want jobs. Putting them to work on school is a win-win situation.

Good public schools are vital. Continuing the tax will help the school board and Superintendent Thomas Lockamy with the successful Passport to Excellence program. Voting “yes” for “penny power” and ESPLOST on Nov. 8 will help keep the improvements on track.

(The above was an Oct. 23 editorial from the Savannah Morning News)

More info here.

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