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Vote yes on E-SPLOST

Dear Editor,

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors would like to urge citizens to vote “yes” in favor of the upcoming ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) referendum on the Nov. 8, 2011, ballot. A “yes” vote will ensure all Decatur County school students and faculties have safe and secure facilities and updated equipment. The continuation of a penny sales tax will generate funds for economic growth while building a strong education system.

Previous ESPLOST projects include the construction of our new high school and elementary school, renovation of other schools, and a bus fueling station. Proposed projects include: debt service on the 2007 bonds, renovation/construction and equipment for our elementary schools and administrative facilities, system-wide technology improvements, the purchase of school buses and transportation equipment, the purchase of fine arts, music and physical education equipment, and safety and security equipment.

Approval of the ESPLOST referendum will not result in a new tax, but the continuation of the current 1-cent sales tax that will expire in June 2012. ESPLOST provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements and retires bond debt in which everyone, not just property owners, contribute. Sales tax is paid by everyone who shops in Decatur County, including visitors.

If the ESPLOST referendum does not pass, previous bond debt would have to be paid with property tax instead of sales tax. This would result in approximately a 1.86 tax mill increase. Also, without the extension of the current ESPLOST, most of the proposed education projects could not be accomplished without increasing property tax.

A “yes” vote for the ESPLOST extension would be a strong demonstration of support from our citizens for quality schools and a better future for our students and our community at-large. The Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce supports the ESPLOST referendum and urges a “yes” vote for ESPLOST for education.

Respectfully submitted,

Diane Strickland, President

On behalf of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce