A decision by the Polk County Board of Education last week to put a referendum on November’s ballot asking voters to decide on an extension of the current education special purpose, local option sales tax will turn the municipal election into county-wide.
The school board unanimously approved a resolution at its Aug. 10 meeting to place the referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot. All eligible voters in Polk County will be able to decide on the 1-cent sales tax, which would be known as SPLOST VII.
Because the upcoming SPLOST is only a continuation of the 1-cent sales tax taken locally for the Board of Education, it will not increase the sales tax any if voters approve the measure on the ballot on Nov. 7.
“Polk School District was able to fund and complete all original and additional projects planned from SPLOST V and VI. SPLOST VII will allow a seamless continuation of repairs, updates, and new projects bringing unlimited opportunities for our students,” Polk Schools Superintendent Dr. Katie Thomas said. “We feel our students and staff deserve the best facilities possible and are so appreciative that the Polk County community continues to support our efforts.”
The current E-SPLOST — SPLOST VI — was approved by voters in 2017 and was imposed just this past January and runs through December, 2025. That tax was a continuation of SPLOST V.
If voters approve the referendum in November it would not start being collected until January, 2026, for a period of nor more than five years or a total of $43 million for property acquisition, construction, and other capital improvements and projects.
Among the projects listed in the resolution to be funded with SPLOST VII collections are the construction of a fine arts building at Rockmart High School, an auxiliary gym at Cedartown High School, new turf for athletic fields at both high schools, system-wide roofing, HVAC, bathrooms, and classroom upgrades and improvements, and system-wide safety and security systems.
Thomas said collection for the current E-SPLOST has been at a higher-than-average pace, which has allowed the district to move forward on several key projects that would have been projected for a later start date.
The school board’s move is similar to what it did in 2017, where the SPLOST VI referendum was the only county-wide item on the November ballot amid municipal elections that would have only allowed Cedartown, Rockmart and Aragon city precinct voters to cast ballots otherwise. That E-SPLOST was passed with 70% of voters approving the extension.
With the scope of Polk County’s elections going from municipal only to county-wide because of the referendum, Polk County Elections Director Brande Coggins said it will fall on the school system to pay for the expansion of election labor and state-mandated costs related to it.
Coggins said she quoted the school district an estimated cost of $19,443.25. A more detailed line-item invoice will be provided to the system following the election once all real costs are calculated.