The school board has two lines on your property
tax. The first tax is 20 mils for O&M. the second tax is a school
bond tax. It was 1.65 mils this year. That tax is used to pay off the
school bonds. The ESPLOST has no relation to the 20 mil tax, but the
1.65 school bond tax WILL be impacted by the ESPLOST. Here is how it
Every July, the school board will estimate the amount of
debt service that is anticipated in the coming year. For example there
may be $12 million dollars of bond payments due next fiscal year. The
board will then calculate a "school bond millage rate" that will raise
the $12 million. This is not an exact calculation though, because the
tax digest has some variation.
The county commissioners will then approve the new "school bond millage rate."
the past few years, a portion of the ESPLOST money has been used to
service the school bond debts. For example, if the debt service is $12
million and the board uses $5 million of ESPLOST money to service the
debt, then it only has to raise $7 million from property taxes. Because
of ESPLOST, the school bond millage rate, and thus our property tax,
has been lower that it would have been without ESPLOST.
Here are the actual numbers from comptroller Laura Brock:
millage rate would have been 1.43 higher this year if there had been no
ESPLOST. You would have paid $143 more on a $250,000 house. Here is a
payments vary over the years (they will triple from 2017 - 2021) and so
the school bond millage may vary. See page 60 of the FCBOE CAFR:
LINE: Our property tax will increase if ESPLOST fails. The school
board will request a school bond millage rate sufficient to cover the
bond payments. Without ESPLOST funds, that millage rate will be higher
in the future.
ANOTHER REASON to like the ESPLOST: People cross
county lines to shop at WalMart and at the Pavilion. These shoppers are
helping to fund our schools. We return the favor when we cross over
into their county. All but a few counties in Georgia have the ESPLOST.
ESPLOST PROBABLY MEANS FEWER TEACHERS: If ESPLOST fails, then about
$10 million of expenses currently covered by ESPLOST will have to come
back to the operating budget. About 90% of the current budget is
people. If textbooks, building maintenance, etc. comes back to
operating budget, then more hard choices will have to be made.
PEEVE: It is not a "penny tax." It is a 1% sales tax. It is a $200 tax if you spend $20,000 per year.
There is no state law that requires property tax to be lowered when
ESPLOST is passed, but it is true that millage rates must be lowered if
there is ESPLOST money left over after all debts are paid and all
approved projects are completed.
ASTRO TURF: There is no astro
turf in the approved list of projects. ESPLOST must be spent on
specific items. Here is a list (but it does not seem to be complete):
I am voting YES. I pay a little less property tax, we collect money
from out of county shoppers, and we have some relief in the operating
budget so that we can perhaps retain more of our excellent teachers and
Coming soon: How I am going to vote on Charter School Amendment? In principle, I like the idea of competition and parental choice, but I do not think that is what this amendment is about. Some say it is a "baby step" to get where we want to go with school choice. Others say we are creating a new expensive government bureaucracy that will take money away from current schools. Some say we do not want to lose local control, but a charter school, by definition closes if the parents are not happy (if they remove their children). I am still pouring over the details.