The two issues disputed by board members concern the sale of bonds and holding a special election for the public to vote on a special purpose local options sales tax, or SPLOST.
“We’re not talking about luxuries here,” board member Mike North said at the board's Dec. 17 meeting. “We’re talking about 50-year-old schools that are in desperate need and a SPLOST is the only way that’s going to happen.”
North and board member Randy Bryant are against a special election for citizens to vote on SPLOST. Bryant estimated a special election would cost the county approximately $18,000.
Bryant and North want to wait and put the issue on the ballot during the primary or general election.
“Sales tax revenue is voluntary for the most part,” North said. “If you don’t want the tax collected, don’t spend the money there.
“Property taxation is the worst, most vile, Marxist form of taxation that’s ever been devised,” North said. “I despise it. I would like to see all taxation be based on some form of sales and that’s why the SPLOST is the most fair form of taxation.”
Bryant and North are also against the sale of bonds to raise funds for the five-year facilities plan. North said he wasn’t comfortable putting the county in debt.
“Why not just pay for it as the money comes in?” he said. “That way, the county is not in debt.
“If the SPLOST ends up not generating the money that you have bonded, then you have to raise property taxes to pay it back. It is not a debt that you can walk away from. It has to be paid back. If the SPLOST doesn’t raise enough money to cover, then what are you left to do but raise property taxes and pay it back out of your general fund?”
Board member Sandra McKinley disagreed with North and Bryant.
“I would prefer to see bonds sold,” McKinley said. “It’s the most cost-effective way to build. We build now at today’s cost. We don’t have to worry about the price increases of materials and labor which will happen over the course of five years. Waiting to build something will cost more to the tax-payer. Plain and simple.
“If we do it ‘pay-as-you-go’ it will just be a lot longer, drawn-out process. It’s going to be more expensive in the long run I think,” McKinley said.
The board delayed further SPLOST and bond talks until its meeting Thursday, Jan. 3.
In other business at the Monday, Dec. 17, meeting:
* The board announced plans to spend Jan. 3 meeting with the Georgia School Board Association, and briefing the interview committee to review applicants for superintendent.
* The board approved a new lease-purchase plan to upgrade computers in schools over the next three years. The cost is not to exceed $448,665.
* Science and technology director Wayne Robinson presented informa-tion on e-rate forms 470 and 471 which could provide potential reimburse-ments to the school system up to approximately $162,000. These reimburse-ments are for technology used in the schools.
* The board approved construction of a vocational facility at LaFayette High School.
* The board recognized the LaFayette Middle School football team for its undefeated season and North Georgia Athletic Conference championship.
* The board recognized LaFayette High School volleyball team for an overall season record of 32-4 and Region 7-AAAA championship. The team was ranked fourth in the state, and was the top public school team in the state.
* The board presented Atkins with an engraved brass clock commemo-rating his years of service to Walker County. The meeting was Atkins’ last as school chief before his Jan. 1
The next board meeting will be Jan. 3 at the central office at 201 Duke St., LaFayette. The board did not specify a time to begin the meeting. Board members estimate talks will begin about sometime after 7 p.m