ESPLOST

Vote for Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax would be five-year renewal of existing tax

Pierce County voters will decide on renewing the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax next month.

A referendum on whether to extend the sales tax for another five years will be held Tuesday, March 16.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. that day at the Pierce County Gym off Main Street and College Avenue in Blackshear and Eagle Station on Williams Street in Patterson.

The last day to register to vote in the election will be next Tuesday, Feb. 16. Online registration or by any other method authorized by the Georgia Election Code is available. Those wishing to register to vote can visit the Pierce County Board of Elections and Registration website, or SOS.ga.gov for online links to register.

Early voting for the ESPLOST referendum will begin Monday, Feb. 22, and continue through Friday, March 12. Early voting will be from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.  each day at the Board of Elections and Registration at 312 Nichols Street, Blackshear.

If approved by the voters, the sales tax will begin July 1, 2022 and continue through June 30, 2027.

The proposed renewal of the tax is expected to generate $13,063,167 in revenue. A total of $7,022,617 will be used for capital outlay projects and $6,040,550 will be used to cover bond debt expenditures.

Capital outlay projects are projected to include renovations, modifications or equipment for Blackshear Elementary School, Board of Education Central Office, Pierce County High School, Pierce County Middle School, Midway Elementary School, and Patterson Elementary School. The projects also include grounds, parking, safety and security needs, and instructional materials, including physical education equipment, weightlifting and fitness equipment, vocational materials, band, choral and fine arts equipment, textbooks, media center books and equipment, school buses, bus cameras, bus routing management technologies, maintenance and transportation vehicles, mowers and lawn maintenance equipment.

The bond debt includes retiring $6 million of the $19 million in revenue bonds the board took out in 2017 to build the new Pierce County High School.

The current tax was approved by the voters in May 2016 and collections began July 1, 2017. The tax will expire June 30, 2022.