“It may benefit the overall appeal of this next SPLOST,” school board member Tim Stultz said during a 2½-hour meeting Monday. “A, not having it within less than a year from TSPLOST, and B, having a three-month lack of collections. I don’t think it will overly affect projects, but I think having three months when we’re not collecting may actually be a good point for the community.”
Stultz said he’s comfortable with the sales tax’s project notebook in general and the proposed $30 million career academy in particular, but not necessarily with putting the tax before voters in March to avoid a three-month gap in collections in 2014.
“This would be the 20th straight year that the school district would be collecting SPLOST revenue,” said Stultz, who represents southeast Cobb. “You have fatigue in the community with that extra 1 percent, and I’m just trying to think of a way that we can show the community that yes, we need the money, we need the support for SPLOST, but we can also be at a point where we can help by giving a three-month stimulus to our local economy.”
James Wilson, the founder of Education Planners Inc. of Marietta, whose team created the project list, said if the vote were delayed until November, collections couldn’t start until April 1, 2014. SPLOST III collections end Dec. 31, 2013.
Board member Kathleen Angelucci, who represents north Cobb, said postponing the vote would also give residents more time to review the project list. She said she doesn’t think the collections gap would hurt retailers, who would have to reprogram their registers.
Later Monday, eight members of the school board’s 15-member Facilities and Technology Committee, which is tasked with overseeing SPLOST-related projects, said the process of developing the SPLOST notebook and putting it before voters was moving too quickly.
Committee Chair Kimberley Euston said she was concerned the district is rushing the process to get the tax in place by Jan. 1, 2014.
“We need SPLOST IV to pass,” she said. “I am very worried about this aggressive timeline and SPLOST passing because there is so much uncertainty around the career academies.”
Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said he respectfully disagreed with Euston, adding that when he’s talked to members of the business community or Cobb Chamber of Commerce, they seem excited about career academies and haven’t indicated any problems with the timeline.
Thea Powell asked her colleagues what their thoughts were on moving forward with SPLOST IV, and they all said they are in favor of the SPLOST but concerned about the timeline.
The F&T committee will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 13. to consider approving the referendum before it goes to the board for an official vote the next night.
If it is approved, Cobb voters are set to consider the tax in March 2013. Collections on the five-year, 1 percent sales tax would run from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2018.
The district anticipates collecting around $718 million in for Cobb Schools and around $55 million for Marietta City Schools. Funding is determined by enrollment.
Marietta’s board will vote on the referendum next week.