“I support the concept of SPLOST, but I am against this,” said former Cobb School District Facilities and Technologies Committee chair Kimberly Euston. “It has become the crack cocaine of the school district.”
Lance Lamberton, president and founder of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, organized the tea-party type rally, which attracted around 40 people, some with “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flags, to the Marietta Square Sunday afternoon. He said the March 19 special purpose local option sales tax vote would authorize more spending on sports, entertainment and recreation programs than the classroom.
“Defeating the SPLOST will be a wake up call to the powers that be,” Lamberton said. “Let them know there is a new sheriff in town and that sheriff is you, the taxpayer.”
SPLOST supporter John Loud, owner of LOUD Security Systems, disputed the idea that most of the money raised in the election would go toward non-essential activities. He invited people to check the SPLOST Notebook to see all the individual projects.
“Somebody can always find one, three, five or 10 projects they have a problem with,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate and shortsighted when somebody says they are going to vote ‘no’ because of a theater or a gymnasium.”
Euston questioned whether Cobb Schools’ figures of a replacement for Walton High School, costing $39.9 million, were accurate, saying the district had previously looked at only putting in a new gym and fine arts center for $25.5 million. She accused the district of using the school to get crucial east Cobb support, only to later come back and say that the school can’t be completed unless they vote for a SPLOST V.
“I thought this was Cobb County, not East Cobb County,” she said. “How many town meetings have been held in other parts of the county?”
Loud said other parts of Cobb were also being taken care of, pointing to a $29.9 million line item for Osborne High School in Smyrna.
“When you look at that notebook, it’s about every single high school, every single feeder school,” he said.
Former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne told audience members, some of whom held signs reading “Ax the Tax!” that voter turnout will be crucial, since March elections often draw between 7 and 10 percent of voters. He wasn’t comforted when he went to vote early and a poll worker told him only six people had voted that day.
“The American people reelected President Barack Obama,” Byrne said. “I do not hold Barack Obama responsible, I hold the American people responsible. I don’t blame the Board of Education for asking, I will hold you responsible if you say ‘yes.’”
Loud, who attended Sunday’s rally, said the crowd size was indicative that people are supporting Ed-SPLOST.
“I realize that there are more students in some overcrowded Cobb classrooms than there were at a county-wide rally today,” he said. “That was a positive statement for a ‘yes’ vote.”