If you vote to extend E-SPLOST in Columbia Co., where will your money go?
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019
News 12 at 6/ NBC at 7
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT)— Education costs money. When you live in a county growing by almost 600 students a year, it costs a lot. The county wants to build new schools, fund technology and buy school buses by continuing E-SPLOST.
"If we didn't have the E-SPLOST, we would have a lot of portable classrooms," Dr. Sandra Carraway, the Superintendent of Columbia County schools said. "We would have to borrow money, what we call long-term debt."
For Rebekah Wilson, her vote is yes; to extend E-SPLOST from 2022 to 2027.
"I was in a portable and I didn't even have the whole thing," Rebekah Wilson said. "It was very crowded even then and that was 2000."
She's spent her whole life in Columbia County schools, first as a student and then as a teacher.
"The penny tax that it amounts to goes towards building new schools," Wilson said. "So, I don't mind paying that one penny extra because of the good it will do."
Since 1997, we've been taxed a penny on every purchase. Some people don't favor this tax because it's on top of property taxes. But the superintendent argues it takes the burden off of property owners.
"Anybody passing through our area, if they live in a surrounding county, if they pass through for the masters or if they're just passing through," Dr. Carraway explains, "if they stop here and buy anything, they're helping support education."
If it passes, the first order of business is three elementary schools, two middle schools and a new county-wide high school campus.
"We will immediately begin taking steps to build a high school campus that will serve all 5 of our high schools," Dr. Carraway said. "It's really exciting because we won't be rezoning students."
The new high school campus would be for students to leave their school, go and take classes in energy, cyber or engineering or pick up internships.
This is not a new tax, it's just an extension of what's currently in place. E-SPLOST has funded 16 new schools in 17 years entirely.
Early voting runs through March 15th. You can stop by polling places from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Election day is March 19th.