Hart County Charter System
ESPLOST VI Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an Education SPLOST (ESPLOST)?
An Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) allows local school districts the option to ask voters for the ability to levy and collect a one percent sales tax to help fund school improvements. It can be used to pay for capital projects or to retire debt, but it cannot be used to pay operating expenses, such as salaries. ESPLOSTs are enacted by referendum.
2. When is the ESPLOST vote?
The election is Tuesday, March 21, 2023. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be an early voting period and advance voting as designated by the Elections Board.
3. Would the proposed ESPLOST be a tax increase?
NO! If approved, the sales tax for education would remain at its current level. An approval would simply continue the current 1% sales tax for education an additional five years or until ESPLOST funds ($30,580,000.00) are collected, whichever comes first.
4. Why an ESPLOST?
The education SPLOST is not a property tax. It provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements in which everyone, not just property owners, contributes. Additionally, the sales tax is paid by everyone that visits Hart County, which includes day shoppers, special event (Cars and Guitars, Pre-Fourth, Tree Lighting, etc.) visitors, campers, and summer vacationers.
5. How much money would be generated, and how long would this sales tax be in place?
It is estimated that an ESPLOST continuation would produce $30,580,000.00 (approximately $30.6 million) over the 60-month period.
6. Why should people who do not have children in school support the ESPLOST extension?
The ESPLOST helps keep property taxes stable. Additionally, students are not the only ones that benefit from good schools. The social and economic strengths of our community are greatly influenced by the school system. High performing schools mean well-prepared citizens, a strong labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for both living and working. One of the key questions asked by industrial/commercial or residential prospects looking to move into a community is “What is the quality of the school system?”
7. Will the school system sell bonds or incur long term debt during the ESPLOST extension?
Yes and no. Yes, the district will sell a $7 million dollar bond to construct new Maintenance and Transportation facilities on Bowman Highway. The funds will also allow the district to expand Hart County High School’s campus so as to accommodate student drivers and event participants. The bond will be paid off before the end of the 60-month collection period.
No, the Hart County Board of Education is committed to a ‘pay as you go’ plan for all other projects and will not incur long-term debt. All projects associated with ESPLOST VI will be paid in full at the end of the 60-month collection period.
8. Why isn’t the money used for salaries and operations costs?
State law prohibits using ESPLOST proceeds for salaries or instructional materials. However, passing the ESPLOST VI referendum will free up funds to meet required financial obligations without having to rely on excessive ad valorem taxes.
9. Why do we need to extend our current ESPLOST?
ESPLOST needs were generated from the system’s 5 Year Facility Plan that is approved by the state of Georgia. As part of the 5 Year Facility Plan and the system’s replacement schedule, the school system needs to move forward with facility improvements and equipment replacement. A continuation of ESPLOST would allow the system to implement our plan with minimal or no property tax increases.
10. Has the current ESPLOST been a success?
YES! The following projects have been completed with zero debt as a result of the current ESPLOST:
● Greenhouses at Hart County High School and Hart County Middle School
● Safety and Security Infrastructure Improvements
● Construction and Transportation Lab Renovation (Hart County High School)
● Instructional Technology Building Renovation
● LED Lighting and Energy-Efficient Upgrades
● Renovation and Replacement of Playground Equipment (All Elementary Schools)
● Hart County Middle School Renovations
● Hartwell Elementary School Renovations
● Technology Replacements and Upgrades
The following projects are forthcoming and will be paid in full with current ESPLOST funds:
● Multi-Sport Athletic Building (Hart County Middle School)
● JROTC Rifle Range and Indoor Archery Building (Hart County High School)
11. What would the school system do with the funds collected from the ESPLOST extension?
The Hart County Board of Education in cooperation with employee and stakeholder groups have established the following project areas:
● New Construction ($16,230,000)
● Facility Upgrades ($9,350,000)
● Safety and Security Upgrades ($1,500,000)
● Technology Upgrades ($2,300,000)
● Transportation Fleet ($1,200,000)
Specific ESPLOST VI projects include the following:
● Maintenance Facility
● Transportation Facility
● Parking Expansion at Hart County High School
● Renovations of North Hart Elementary and South Hart Elementary
● Fieldhouse at Hart County High School
● Professional Learning Center with Administrative Offices
● Daycare Facility
● Security Camera Upgrades
● Instructional Technology Upgrades
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Questions submitted from the public:
- Is there an absentee ballot I can fill out for the vote?
Yes, you can request an absentee ballot at the Hart County Board of Elections Office, located at 182 Cade Street, Hartwell. Please bring your driver's license with you. There will also be early advanced voting from February 27 through March 17. Early advanced voting will also be available on Saturday, March 4 and Saturday, March 11.