E-SPLOST is wasteful spending

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“Cut government spending” didn’t last very long. Make no mistake — education is big government! The power of our local 3 cents sales tax, paid on every dollar spent, equates to an estimated $18 million annually to our local government, and education now reaps one-third of that.

E-SPLOST spending is limited to “capital improvements.” However, new or renovated schools do not guarantee quality educations. The 2012 E-SPLOST stated it was needed to help retire debt services on the 2007 bonds. The balance of debt for the new high school is $7,539,348, through 2032. With $30 million estimated within the next five years, why not pay it off this cycle, save interest, and not obligate us to any more E-SPLOST renewals?

Instead, they desire a new $15 million immediate bond to fund acquiring and constructing new elementary schools. Voters will become weary of these costly projects and do not have endless “deep pockets” for sales taxes. Florida does not allow any sales tax to be applied to grocery purchases.

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Information encouraging a “yes” vote for E-SPLOST stated “it’s only continuing a local tax of a penny for schools.” But, they failed to mention that penny paid, besides on general purchases, also applies to all groceries, utility bills, entertainment and gasoline. That means for every $500 you spend a month on these combined items, you lose an additional $5 of income, or $60 per year (and the total 3-percent local sales tax means you’re down $180 per year). I guess the consumers’ fight over Bank of America’s $5 monthly debit card fee didn’t register in Decatur County.

A 12.57-percent Decatur County turnout of 13,345 active registered voters is shameful. The 1,351 votes that passed this renewal is interesting, considering that there are about 800 county educational employees. However, this “special election” issue was planned for low turnout, in order to ensure its passage well before the current June 30, 2012, expiration. Maybe we need to repeal this vote and re-schedule it for 2012 to obtain a majority opinion.

This devious tactic was made to avoid its competition with — and being on the same ballot as — the proposed new 1-percent sales tax for T-SPLOST (transportation for 10 years). Our Gov. Deal is trying to do the right thing by setting the vote for this issue for the 2012 primary election, instead of holding it until the larger exposure of the presidential elections. The state would like it passed, since the 20.9 cents per gallon they collect from gasoline taxes could all stay at the state level. Do we really want, or need, another level of government — regional?

Remember, any SP“LOST” issue is about taxes. No matter what, you’ve “LOST” your money.

Kelly Godwin