ESPLOST Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for education?
An Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) is the option that a local school district has to call for a referendum to approve a one percent sales tax to help fund school facility improvements. It can be used to pay for school construction, equipment and/or to retire debt, but cannot be used to pay operating expenses, such as salaries.
2. What will continuing the ESPLOST accomplish?
Money raised from the ESPLOST will be used to build new schools, eliminate mobile classrooms, upgrade existing facilities, provide improved technology and equipment, purchase school sites and create premier environments for our students.
3. Is this an additional tax?
No! This is a continuation of the current penny sales tax for education. It will not change the existing sales tax for Chatham County.
4. Is this ESPLOST different from the Chatham County Commissioners SPLOST?
YES! The ESPLOST is a special purpose tax approved by the citizens for improvements of school facilities and equipment. The County SPLOST is a special purpose tax designed to fund county government projects identified by the Chatham County Commission.
5. What makes ESPLOST different than property tax?
The ESPLOST is not a property tax. It provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements that everyone pays, not just property owners. This is important because sales tax is paid by everyone who shops or stays in Chatham County including our numerous visitors. Approximately 40% of the sales tax is paid by people who live outside Chatham County.
6. What would an extension of the current ESPLOST mean?
The extension of the current ESPLOST would continue improvement of facilities and equipment, as well as upgrade technology resources for our students. Additionally, the extension to our current ESPLOST will pay previously incurred bond debt. If the bond debt is not paid with sales tax, property taxes may need to be increased to pay the annual bond debt.
7. Given the current state of our economy, why consider building projects?
Slow economic times actually provide an excellent opportunity to build projects. Construction costs are projected to be down considerably and the lack of construction in other sectors leads to more competitive bids for the school system. The school system also understands that a major building project is beneficial to the local community. The current economy is also providing historic record low interest rates. This means that the cost to forward fund these projects with a bond issue is at an all time low.
8. Would the continuation of the ESPLOST increase my property tax?
No! The penny sales tax shifts some of the responsibility of providing quality educational facilities from property owners to all citizens (and visitors) of the community. Approximately 40% of the funding will be provided by citizens living outside Chatham County.
9. What would happen if the ESPLOST did not pass?
Without the extension of the current ESPLOST, property taxes may have to be increased to pay previous bond debt. Also, other facility or equipment improvements would not be accomplished and this would result in lost opportunities for Chatham County students.
10. How much money would be raised and how long would this sales tax be in place?
The ESPLOST extension is for a $330 million limit or 5 years, whichever comes first.
11. What does ESPLOST mean for people who do not have children in the public school system?
The ESPLOST extension keeps ad valorem taxes stable. Additionally, the children are not the only ones who benefit from good schools. The social and economic strength of a community are greatly influenced by the school system. Good schools mean well prepared citizens, a strong labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for both living and working.
12. Why can't ESPLOST funds be used to fund personnel or reduce furlough days for teachers?
By Georgia law, school systems cannot use ESPLOST proceeds to pay for personnel.
13. Why can't lottery funds be used to fund projects?
Currently, Chatham County Schools receive no funding for K-12 educational purposes from the Georgia Lottery. Lottery proceeds only fund the state Pre-K program and the Hope Scholarship. Also, by law, school systems cannot use lottery funds for school renovation and construction projects.
14. When is the ESPLOST vote?
The election is Tuesday, November 8, 2011. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
15. How can I learn more about the next ESPLOST? Individuals may review the “Board Docs (Agenda)” section located on the “Board” tab of www.sccpss.com. Once on Board Docs, simply search “Meetings” and review the August 3rd, 2011 Regular Board Meeting. There you will find item Education Special Local Option Sales Tax II (ESPLOST) Resolution.