On Nov. 6, Bryan County will once again vote on the Board of Education SPLOST in a special election.
"The main thing the community needs to know is that this not a new tax, this is a continuation of the past SPLOST," said Wynell Purcell, the North Bryan County co-chair of Bryan County Citizens for Education SPLOST Three. "People also need to know that the state funding for Bryan County schools, like every other school in the state, has been cut by about $1 million each year budget-wise, and the continuation of SPLOST will help keep them in the shape that they’re in."
Carrol Ann Coleman, the South Bryan County co-chair, said there is currently a SPLOST information brochure that will be distributed to the public, particularly to parents with children in school. Coleman said Haley Beeson is the treasurer for the program, along with Candice Piper.
"The brochure explains what the local option sales tax is. In 1996, the state first allowed the schools to do SPLOST for education purposes. Every five years, SPLOST has to go back before the community," Coleman explained.
"This is the third one, and Bryan County has always been very supportive so far, of seeing that schools have been able to take advantage of this alternative funding source. It is something that I am very passionate about," she said.
Coleman said she can remember "the bad old days," before SPLOST became available as an additional school funding source.
"When our school system first began to grow rapidly, keeping up with the growth and providing the sticks and bricks to house students in a growing population was a very difficult task," she said. "This is something that, as long as we are continuing to grow in our community and schools, we need to take advantage of this."
Coleman has been chairman all three times SPLOST has come up for election.
"In 1996, I was the chairman when we were first given this opportunity. We campaigned really hard to make people aware of it, and it worked," she said. "I think the first time it was a 68 percent voter approval. The second time, it was approved by I think about 75 percent. This time, the third time, I hope the citizens of Bryan County have seen all that the schools have accomplished with this source of funds, and will agree that we would certainly be in terrible shape without it."
Coleman said she’s had the opportunity during this experience to really study the government funding within the state. She said the biggest concern for most residents is fairness in their taxation.
"This tax is more than fair," she said. "A large percentage of our SPLOST money comes from tourists passing through, and it’s a tax for everybody – all consumers – rather than just property owners splitting the bill.
More information will be posted on the Bryan County Schools web site, at www.bryan.k12.ga.us.