School board after legislative OK for sales tax
by Kathryn Dobies Malone
kdobies@mdjonline.com
November 11, 2010 12:00 AM | 3062 views | 32 32 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - The Cobb school board plans to ask Cobb legislators to further support funding education by imposing a 1 percent sales tax, which would require support from the legislators and voters, something that the board is not likely to get.

In a proposal by Republican David Banks, the board voted 4-3 - with Democrats Holli Cash, David Morgan and Alison Bartlett dissenting - to present the Cobb delegation with a resolution that would give voters a referendum to increase the sales tax, while reducing property tax by one mill. Similar to a SPLOST, this tax would be a temporary penny-on-the-dollar sales tax, except the revenue would go into Cobb County Schools' general fund. The sales tax increase would affect seniors especially and offer them no benefit, since they are exempted from paying property tax.

As Bartlett pointed out in the board's discussion of the proposal, the three Democrats on the board opposed the sales tax hike, while the four Republicans supported it. Bartlett argued that the Cobb taxpayers don't always see their tax dollars working for education.

"We have enough classrooms in Cobb County to house all our students, and yet, we're using trailers," Bartlett said. "We are taxing our citizens and they are not seeing it. They are not seeing the benefits to education. What I'm saying is you're asking to increase taxes, which this is the funniest conversation when you look at Democrat and Republican - I'm just like, there's something reversed here."

Cash and Bartlett are concerned that, if the district brings in more revenue, the state will find a way to reduce funding to CCSD through cuts. The three dissenters openly questioned the whether or not the sales tax would be successful, and what would happen when the tax expired.

"The problem is that's what it will be ... it will be turned around on this board," Cash said. "No. 1, we're going to roll back the millage. What happens when this goes away? We have to raise the millage, that concerns me ... I just don't think it's a good idea. And this has nothing to do with party, or politics or who's in power, this is for the long-term for the state of Georgia, this has not been proven to work in other places. We've just seen the budget supplanted. But I respect your having trust in the system."

Banks defended his proposal, saying that Alabama has a similar tax and that it does work. However, when Morgan asked Banks to elaborate on the details of the Alabama sales tax and its success, Banks could not specify.

Drs. John Crooks and John Abraham, however, supported Banks' proposal, saying it was a starting point for an extra revenue stream for the district and that they would like to present it to the Cobb delegation.

"I just want to see if anybody in the Cobb delegation will champion his resolution," Crooks said following the meeting. "I think I was like John (Abraham), it's a starting point."

On Tuesday, State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said he and several other Cobb legislators received an e-mail from Banks that morning, asking them to support the additional one percent sales tax. Both Ehrhart and Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-East Cobb) doubted their fellow Cobb delegates would support Banks' proposal.

"I am always ready to look at any proposal that the school board wants to send me, but I think that the public has been pretty adamant in their feelings about any kind of tax increase," Cooper said. "And I would think that a proposal like this would have very little chance of going anywhere within the Cobb delegation."

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) said he responded to Banks' email on Tuesday, explaining that he has serious concerns about tying the district's general maintenance and operations to a referendum vote by the public. Setzler explained that when that referendum expired, it would likely create a large deficit in the district's general fund.

"If a referendum vote were to fail there would just be a devastating hole in the school district's budget," Setzler said. "I think it would jeopardize the system and really put us in a dangerous place. I just think it's too risky and I think it would be fool-hearted to try to do that."

State Rep. Alisha Thomas-Morgan (D-Austell), who is the wife of David Morgan, said she did not receive an email from Banks asking for support of the proposal and that she hadn't even heard of the idea.

? The board voted on two SPLOST construction items, both of which Bartlett opposed simply because she believed the administration presented the board with the projects at the last minute.

SPLOST manager Doug Shepard explained that his office generally brings the board a bid for a construction contract to review at the board work session, and that the board then votes to award that contract in its night meeting. But since the board only has one meeting in November and one in December, the administration could not wait until December for a board vote on the projects, because it would jeopardize both project timelines.

In a vote of 6-1, with Bartlett dissenting, the board awarded an $8.4 million contract to Cooper and Company General Contractors, Inc., based in Cumming, for the addition of a culinary arts classroom, as well as renovations to Pope High School. In another vote of 6-1, with Bartlett dissenting again, the board awarded a $295,000 contract to Sports Turf Company, Inc., based in Whitesburg, for track resurfacing at Pebblebrook High School.

"I voted nay, because of not due notice given to the board, because there's always an excuse as to why we're doing this," Bartlett said following her no vote on the Pope addition. "And I've been here for two and a half years now, and it keeps happening, and it's not OK. And this is something right, and I'm glad it passed because it is the right thing to do, but we have got to stop saying, oh, wait a minute, here's a last-minute thing we need to vote on. That has got to stop."

But Banks and Abraham took issue with Bartlett's stance.

"I'm going to say something that I hope future boards believe in," Abraham said. "Successful partnerships are built on trust. And there are going to be times where we're all busy and we need to trust. And if we don't trust them, then fire 'em, OK?"

The meeting fell a week after the general election, which ousted vice-chair Cash. Despite the disappointment for Cash, she appeared in good spirits on Wednesday. Incoming board member Tim Stultz, who defeated Cash, was at the meeting early on, as was Kathleen Angelucci, who ran unopposed in the general Election and will be taking Abraham's north Cobb seat in January. Scott Sweeney, who defeated Dr. Rick Welkis for Crooks' east Cobb seat, was not at Wednesday's meeting because he is out of town on business.

In other business, the board voted to hire Dr. Angela Bacon for the director of instructional technology position that was left vacant by Linda Morrell. Bacon was hired at a salary of $102,098. She is currently the executive director of the department of technology at Clayton County.
Comments
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desperate worker
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November 19, 2010
You know, I think I am ready to surrender to government.

Let's make a deal.

I will give government all the money I earn and the government gives back to me what it thinks I need to live.

I give up.
Trust?????
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November 12, 2010
So we are to "trust" use of MORE tax dollars to these board members to "use" for school "operations" and NOT on education?

Banks, you obviously have your head in the sand.

How about a trustworthy EXTERNAL audit before the new board members take their offices so that they know what they have gotten themselves into....??
Pope Parent
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November 12, 2010
@ CA Teacher, did you not read my complete post? We have no business creating another mess when the students cannot even do basic math. Funding should be spent to fix the issues we have before we add new features such as a culinary center. I believe in a vo-tech track and fully understand that not everyone is going to college. Where is the space Pope used for vo-tech training prior to Kathy Cox debacle of implementing one track? Why do we have so many kids in trailers? Where is the concern of the academic backslide? I'm a tax payer in the Pope district and I feel this addition is ill advised at this time. The focus should be on academics first. These kids are coming to HS without knowing their multiplication facts. Think I'm making it up, talk to some of the high school math teachers. How are you going to teach someone to double the recipe and what that means when they made it to high school without knowing how to add fractions? Alison, a math teacher, fully understands that this addition is ill timed on many levels.
Thomas Paine
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November 12, 2010
A messgage to David Banks and John Crooks.

"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute."
hmarty
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November 11, 2010
Taxed Enough Already! When this SPLOST Tax comes for a VOTE, remember November. We the People can and will be heard! We are mad a heck and we are not taking it any more! We all need to take a look at our needs VS our wants. There is a big difference!
Go Bartlett
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November 11, 2010
Because she can't do it alone. She has cheerleaders because we recognize her attempts at doing the right thing. It's not to say she's perfect by any means however, compared to the rest of the board, she towers above the rest in terms of ethics, integrity and the drive to focus on kids, teachers and process improvement. And in that order too. Go Bartlett ! Your cheerleaders are out here cheering you on !
You're kidding me?
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November 11, 2010
You're kidding me right? Have you been to any of the board meetings? If not, then I encourage you to view the meetings online. Alison regularly suggests new and alternative ways of doing things only to have Holli blast donut crumbs all over the place talking about how "we've discussed this before already" or the famous speech she loves to hear herself regurgitate "We need to do what's best for kids" which roughly translates to "What I say is best for kids and what you say is not". That is why she is on her way out. Or you have John Crooks sitting behind Alison making faces when she questions something as if he were disgusted by her constant questioning of the process. Yes, I saw you making the faces John. Check the video you moron everyone saw it. Inconvenient for you eh John? At least her post hasn't tried to recall her. This is what Alison has been up against for 2 years. In this position her only option is to dissent. You have Abraham vomiting stupidity all over everyone, John Crooks trying to figure out what deal he can hide from the public next, David Banks mumbling stuff he can't even backup with fact, David Morgan showing up late and then you have Lynnda over there in the corner wandering aimlessly and bumbling the stupidest quotes to the media. It's embarrassing really. I can tell you, as a frequent attendee of the board meetings, I can attest to what I know and see. Can you suggest that Alison doesn't fully participate? Really? Maybe you could join the board and help make a difference. Ever thought of that? It takes more than one person you know. With more like minded individuals on the board as I hope the newcomers will be, we will see some exciting and positive changes in the way our Board does business going forward. We should only be so lucky to have Alison run for Chair but if she decides not to run, we are still better off having her on the board without a doubt. January can't come fast enough as far as I'm concerned. Lynnda and D.Banks, your days are numbered too. The voters are tired, embarrassed and ready for change.
CA Teacher
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November 11, 2010
To Pope Parent- have you ever thought about the fact that Culinary Arts HELPS students learn math, science and language arts in a way that reaches many learners? Math is used everyday in that class! If you do not know or understand the curriculum, then please do not comment. And by the way- not all students are going to college and not all should go to college- why can we not provide those students with skills that they need to be successful in the work place? We are supposed to educate ALL children, not just college bound ones.
Funny!
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November 11, 2010
I find it funny that every position that is NOT involved with teaching children makes around $100,000. Teachers start at $ 38,000 and max out at $ 50,000 after 30 years of service. Yet, all these people who do not work directly with students and are not responsible for them in any way make twice as much! If we did impose a 1 cent sales tax at least the illegals would be contributing!
Angry taxpayer
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November 11, 2010
The school boards, the county commissioners, the city councils, the government departments are all on a wild spending spree with our money.

No wonder everyone is broke when about half of what we make goes to government.

There are sales taxes, special sales taxes, income taxes, embedded taxes and then all the fees we pay.

Time for discipline.

Enough is enough! Vote against every tax!
fed up taxpayer
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November 11, 2010
How much more artificial turf do we need at the football stadiums of the Cobb schools?

Nearly $20 million for artificial turf?

Thanks, Cobb School Board.

P.S. - Why do we need all the football stadiums?
Is Bartlett ready?
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November 11, 2010
Not sure why Bartlett has so many cheerleaders. Sure, she's taken a stand on issues, fought the good fight against the bad board, and sometimes appears to have a clue. BUT, her only "idea" is to vote no for things. She always dissents, yet never provides another course of action. Leadership isn't just about identifying errors; you have to chart a course for future success! With her "We shouldn't do that" and "I don't support that," she's casting correct votes. What I want to see more of is, "Here's what we should do" and "Let's try this plan." My sense is that if she becomes Chair, she will be exposed as a strong-willed, but ultimately insufficient, leader because she has no ideas for how to improve the district. She can tell you what's wrong, but not what will make it better. That serves a purpose, but we need more if CCSD is ever going to turn the corner.
Go Bartlett
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November 11, 2010
We're behind you Alison! We've watched them try to bully you into rubber-stamping their votes for too long already. We watched how J.Abraham and H.Cash, D.Banks and L.Crowder-Eagle lectured you on the record when you called Fred out from behind the skirt he hid behind over the calendar vote. YOU ROCK ALISON! I'm proud to be from your district! If we're lucky enough to have you run again next time, you can trust and believe you've got my vote. Never let them try to make you one of their rubber stamps. Do the right thing according to your own ethics and watch the others leave office one by one because of theirs.
Paul Sebers
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November 11, 2010
Another not needed position filled at over $100,000 per year and you ask for more tax money - what are you smoking???

I want some!

David A. Staples
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November 11, 2010
Ironic, isn't it, that the Republicans are the ones proposing the tax increase while the Democrats are opposing it? As a Libertarian, I fully support the Democrats on this particular measure. If the additional sales tax were to bring in $143M per year and property taxes bring in roughly $23M per year per mill then our property taxes should be reduced by 6.3 mills… not 1 mill.

http://www.CobbCountyProject.com
What-Ev !
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November 11, 2010
Another example why Bartlet should be Chair! Each of the members have constituents to answer to NOT EACH OTHER. And then Abraham opens his mouth and vomits out the word TRUST?? Is he retarded?? I didn't vote for my board member so that she will TRUST someone else's word. I voted for her so that she will make up HER OWN MIND. This is not a family operation you MORON. This is Board Business! EVERY member should be 1000% comfortable on EVERY vote where that much money is at stake. I wonder why we're allowing last minute votes on ANYTHNIG let alone taking someone's word for it and "TRUSTING" that everything is as it should be. Good for you Alison! for having the spine it takes to stand up for what is right despite the bullying you get lunatic outgoing board members. GOOD RIDDANCE JOHN. Ya Creep !
Alpha23
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November 11, 2010
I would think the repubs on the board should think about what happened to the dems on Nov. 2! We're not afraid to make wholesale changes again!!
anonymous
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November 11, 2010
Hey TempTax, how about cutting back on SPENDING to resolve budget short falls...and NO you don't start by laying off teachers first (unless, of course, you are/think like a government school worker).

Watcher, those Culinary Arts programs are going to be VERY important for the Cobb County School kids if they don't get their grades up in Math, Science and English...cookin' is going to be their only option.

RE: Bartlett - I am very surprised to see Bartlett is a Democrat...she makes so much sense(only one one on the CCSB).
ATF
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November 11, 2010
It is enormously amusing that the Dems voted against a tax increase and the Pubs voted for it.

One of the things Deal talked about during this campaign was improving trades training in our schools. I was struck by that. We need auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, all sort of folks who know how to make, or install, or repair the mechanical things of life.

Our local schools have focused on getting everyone ready for college, as if there was no alternative. There is. We need to also prepare kids to enter the trades.

I will admit I did not think of culinary arts as one of those trades and I would rather get back to basics - like what tools do what, what fasterners to use in different situations, how to change the oil in a car. Would "culinary arts" fit what Deal envisioned? I just don't know.

And, I do not support an additional 1 cent sales tax for day-to-day school operations. I do support SPLOST for designated projects for schools and for our other community needs. I shall let my State senator and representative know.

To little...
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November 11, 2010
You are misinformed; the school board position is part time, the pay is $19K a year. Sweeney has not been sworn in, won't be until January. All board members have other jobs and a life. Sweeney has a business to run and a family to support; being on a business trip is sometimes unavoidable.
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