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Tea Party Loses SPLOST Debate at Sope Creek Elementary

What is the Education SPLOST about? Where can I find the facts? Can I Vote by Mail?

Commissioner Bob Ott and School Board member Scott Sweeney held a joint town hall meeting at Sope Creek Elementary School last Tuesday. Commissioner Ott explained the new bridge over Sope Creek. Mr. Sweeney explained the history of the Education SPLOST and the newest one (SPLOST 4) that is up for renewal on March 19.

For instance, Mr. Sweeney said that before the first Education SPLOST, the normal way to fund capital improvements to the school system was through bond issues. In 1995, $221 million was raised in a bond issue for schools. The interest was $92 million. Education SPLOST4 is a 5 year 1% sales tax. It is not a new tax or an increased tax. It is a continuation of the Education SPLOST tax that has been in existence since 1995. Also, about 30% of the tax is paid by non-Cobb residents who live outside the county but work or shop in Cobb.

Both presentations were clear and informative. Both speakers answered questions from the audience. The only folks who weren’t informed or clear going into the meeting or leaving it were the small group of Tea Partiers who show up at most public meetings. They passed out an article from the East Cobber magazine where they had vented their misrepresentations and ignorance.

The Tea Party people complained that the election cost of about $300,000 was excessive. The audience understood that the Education SPLOST was going to save tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions of dollars to Cobb tax payers. The Tea people wanted to save a little now and spend a lot later (penny wise pound foolish). The process of selecting projects was also criticized as flawed with no specifics given or alternative method suggested.

Since the first Education SPLOST, 22 new schools have been built, 551 portable classrooms have been eliminated, bond debt of $184 million was paid off in 2007. Now, Cobb County is one of the few school districts in Georgia as well as the United States that is free of long-term bond debt.

The Cobb school board has a good web site about our county schools with an informative link about the facts of the Education-SPLOST, like what projects are planned in your area. 

How to register and vote? The Cobb Elections board has a VERY user friendly web site.

Work on election day? Most people do, Vote by Mail, aka Absentee Ballot.

Can I make copies of absentee ballot request forms and take to work or church? YES.

Do I need an excuse to Vote by mail – out of town, sick, etc.? NO excuse needed.

I requested a ballot 2 weeks ago. It took a minute to fill-out. You can fax, scan and e-mail, or put your request in the mail. A ballot should arrive in my mail box in a week or 2.

What will be on the ballot? Here's the sample ballot.

The Tea Party people lost the debate at Sope Creek because moms and dads asked good questions and got good answers about financing quality public education in Cobb County. The Tea Party people always vote. Most moms and dads don’t even know that there is an election March 19 about funding Cobb Schools in the most fair and efficient way possible.

Without an Education SPLOST, Cobb will have to go back to the old ways of financing capital projects, bonds that will have to be paid back through increased property taxes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Loud February 27, 2013 at 04:23 AM
Very informative article with helpful links. I hope the the Cobb voters will get out to vote early and vote YES or vote YES on March 19 to support the 116,147 students and the 14,500 dedicated employees in our local school systems. I think a vote YES is a YES to continue with NO NEW TAXES. A YES to the SPLOST is supporting and stating we want to have DEBT FREE school systems in Cobb County. A YES is to say we want to continue with a strengthening economic development environment throughout the County. A YES vote for continued community pride in our county...... Realize that the SPLOST over the last 14+ years has saved the Cobb taxpayers an estimated $1/2 BILLION in bond interest payments that we DID NOT HAVE TO PAY.
Dutch Weiner March 01, 2013 at 01:35 AM
I was at the meeting, and there was no debate. Scott Sweeney answered a few questions, and that was it. Nice spin. I guess we know where the bias is.
Dutch Weiner March 01, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Furthermore, no one was identified as be a TEA Party member. Just report the truth, and people will respect you more. The SPLOST probably is a good idea because the money is earmarked, which means it would be more difficult for our elected officials to run wild with a new pot of money, and to the extent that Cobb County does just need more money to cover increased spending, at least it will be through a sales tax instead of increased property taxes. However, I for one would appreciate journalism instead of a story based on what the writer would like to have seen happen. Badly done!
Dutch Weiner March 01, 2013 at 01:48 AM
Furthermore, no one was identified as being a TEA Party member. Just report the truth, and people will respect you more. The SPLOST probably is a good idea because the money is earmarked, which means it would be more difficult for our elected officials to run wild with a new pot of money, and to the extent that Cobb County does just need more money to cover increased spending, at least it will be through a sales tax instead of increased property taxes. However, I for one would appreciate journalism instead of a story based on what the writer would like to have seen happen. Badly done!
J Stevens March 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Mike, Shouldn’t you even make an ATTEMPT to report the news - as opposed to just reporting your opinions? It makes me wonder what REALLY happened at that meeting. I’m going to vote for SPLOST 4 for the simple, self-serving reason that I have children feeding into Walton. This type of article doesn’t do anything to inform the public or even to sway voters to your side of the debate.
J Smith March 06, 2013 at 02:40 PM
This section is called "Local Voices". It's an editorial, not a news story. Kind of like 90% of the shows on Fox "News".
Lance Lamberton March 07, 2013 at 02:32 AM
What's up with the Patch? I was there and there WAS NO DEBATE! Most of the questions asked were critical of the assumptions made by Sweeney. Meanwhile, E-SPLOST opponents, led by the Cobb Taxpayers Association, have been asking for a debate, but have been stonewalled by the tax and spend crowd. However there will be a Rock the SPLOST rally this Sunday, 12 to 1 at the Marietta Square. Please attend if you want to get "the rest of the story."
John Loud March 07, 2013 at 03:13 AM
What happens at Cobb schools has a direct impact on your children's education and an indirect impact on our community and home values. The United 4 Kids Campaign would like for you to vote YES for the continuation of the education SPLOST on March 19th A Vote YES is saying you want to continue a healthy DEBT FREE school district. Vote YES = FOR a continued commitment to the children in our community

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