Don’t delay SPLOST vote — cancel it
by Pete Borden
November 12, 2012 11:58 PM | 1459 views | 5 5 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most voters appreciate the magnanimous sacrifice the members of the Cobb County School Board are willing to make to try and dupe us into another five years of SPLOST tax. They are willing to “give us a three month stimulus,” as one member phrased it. However, there are several points they seem to be overlooking.

First of all, they are not in the driver’s seat here. Instead of their “giving” us something, how about if we give them a year, with no worry about how to spend SPLOST funds, and let them come up with a real plan to further the education of our children?

Second, key members of the Facilities and Technology Committee are seriously questioning the legality of an uncomfortable number of items, specifically routine maintenance items. So far, the response has been something like “Well other counties have been doing stuff like this and getting away with it.” Excuse me! Is that the best you are able to do, for justification?

The F&T Committee is made up of knowledgeable people, all appointed, mostly by members of the school board, to do exactly this. It is their job to monitor and be sure that the use of taxpayer dollars earmarked for building/

expanding new facilities, or upgrading our technology, meets the standards of need and legality. The attitude of “getting away with it” does not sit well with me, or, I suspect with most other taxpayers.

Some members of the committee, along with a couple of members of the school board, are concerned that there is too much rush to try to get this SPLOST IV Notebook completed so that the tax proposal can be thrown at the voters in March, giving the voters little time for review and leaving no time for adjustment.

No doubt the proposal will be pushed with the tired old catch phrase “It’s for the Kids!” Give it up! Most of us knew that it had little to do with the kids and their education four years into the first one when we realized that it never did have anything to do with getting rid of the trailers. It was not then, nor has it ever been, about the kids, trailers or any other of the carrots they have dangled.

We will also hear that about 30 percent or so of the revenue will come from people who live out of the county. The “scientific” survey producing this fantasy consisted of a visual, drive-by survey of cars with out county license plates, from all I have been able to learn about it.

“It is only 1 percent!” That is another of the misleading arguments they use. Though true, as far as it goes, the important point is that it makes up over 16 percent of our sales tax expenses.

If you study the SPLOST Notebook, as it currently exists, you quickly recognize it as a “backward” justification process. Taxes are generally created because a need arises. In this case, we have a potential of some revenue and are scrambling to come up with things for which to spend that revenue.

For example, there are a number of “New School” line items, including the controversial career academy, with no justification of need, or even a location. Maybe there will be a need for these schools. On the other hand, maybe there won’t be. The problem is, once they are in the Notebook and approved by the taxpayers, they must build the school. How much sense does that make, if the school is not needed?

A large sum is designated for auditoriums and gymnasiums, all of which are nice to have, but when push comes to shove, we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions. First, are they really needed, or are they just really wanted? Second, how much do they contribute to the academic education of our children? Our schools’ primary purpose is academic education, not training for the New York Philharmonic or the Boston Celtics. Athletics and performing arts training are both great, but in tough times they must take a back seat to academics.

The people of Cobb County have overdosed on taxes. We have been made fools of, and we have been threatened more than once.

Thanks to County Commission Chairman, Tim Lee, and his shenanigans, we know how to say NO! If the school board proceeds with this plan, it will be time to put that knowledge to use again.

Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.
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November 19, 2012
Excellent commentary, Pete. Government needs to live within its means, not constantly raise revenue for borderline projects that it could afford if it spent its current revenue more wisely. We paid a grand total of 3% sales tax 30 years ago. Why do we need to pay 6% today?
November 14, 2012
While some may moan and groan about using SPLOST money for maintenance, they need to honestly consider the alternative. Our schools will immediately be hit with another line item on the general operating budget which will take away even more money from the the general fund. This action would have an immediate domino effect. Ultimately, it would end with even larger classroom sizes. For Pete's sake, just how many kids can you pack in one classroom and expect more than behavior management?

These are challenging times for our schools and it is time for more leaders to emerge. To sit on the side lines and constantly throw rocks may seem righteous. In reality, this type of action simply dooms our schools to hit the rocks.
Not yet
November 13, 2012
I agree with Pete Borden. Time for a break in SPLOSTs for at least a year. The Cobb BOE should take a look at what is REALLY needed. Doubt that we need a new school or additions. This is not 1970-1990. And it never again will be.
@ Pete
November 13, 2012
Your last rant raved about how there were 700 trailers after the 1st SPLOST.

Have you bothered to investigate how many there are now? Try 140. That's 59 fewer than just one year ago with at least 47 more that will be removed with the completion of the Wheeler and Harrison projects.

Here's Pete's great idea... Do nothing, don't prepare or anticipate growth, and then put trailers back at schools when you realize (too late) you don't have space to accommodate students.
Devlin Adams
November 13, 2012
Great News! After almost 14 years, and over 1.5 billion dollars, we have eliminated only 80% of the trailers, assuming your figures are accurate.

But, if you think the trailer issue was the subject of Borden's column, you need to learn to read and understand. The trailers are only a visible sympton of the probles with the SPLOST. The problems being, (now listen carefully and take notes)that alot of money is wasted ont hings other than "sticks and bricks" which was the orginal purpose of SPLOST.

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