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ESPLOST vote is Tuesday
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The Educational Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax election Tuesday will determine if the Liberty County Board of Education can raise more than $33 million from the penny tax to build and maintain its educational facilities.
Few voters took advantage of the early voting opportunity this week, but officials said that’s average for such an election.
Supervisor of Elections Ella Golden estimated 1,000 voters usually vote in SPLOST elections.
“We’ve had 52 advanced voters and 13 absentee votes this week,” Golden said.
In 2002, 1,147 out of 15,000 registered voters participated in the ESPLOST election. This year there are 22,843 registered voters, she said.
Voters will vote on the tax as well as the proposed list of projects the money would be used to fund.
According to state law, the funds must strictly be used for approved projects only. If approved, the board would develop a timeline for the projects based on priority, cost and expected cash flow, BOE Finance Director Jason Rogers said.
“Not floating bonds requires a little bit more work, planning and analysis on our part but we feel it is beneficial to the tax payers because every cent that is raised and collected goes into the project and no money has to be paid out for interest,” he said.
Many Liberty County residents are not aware of the upcoming ESPLOST vote or its impact, and that could slow down plans for school related projects.
Several people who were asked for comments about the tax said they had never heard of ESPLOST.
One person who is award of it, 1999 Bradwell Institute graduate Kenyuta Harris, said the tax should be continued.
“If it’s going to be beneficial to our children we should keep paying it,” she said. “We do need more schools here. The schools are very crowded and we only have two high schools.”
Harris said if possible, the money should be used to bring in more activities.
“We need more activities for our children. When I was in school, after school was out we didn’t have anything to do,” she said.
The current ESPLOST will expire June 30. If voters say yes, the third round would start July 1.
Voters can cast their vote March 20 at all polling locations, Golden said.

Proposed projects
If approved the next round of ESPLOST would fund:
• A new middle school
• A new elementary school
• Performing arts center with a capacity of 1,200 to 4,000 seats
• Jordye Bacon Elementary School: modifications to the kitchen, cafeteria and school administration areas
• Button Gwinnett Elementary School: improvements and possible relocation of the media center
• Bradwell Institute - Continued improvements with focus on Technical and Industrial classrooms and labs
• Lyman Hall Elementary: reroofing
• School improvements: repaint and recarpet schools as needed
• Parking drainage paving improvements as necessary

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