Leaders anticipate lower SPLOST returns for Troup County School System
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015
LaGRANGE — The Troup County School System is looking at collecting less than its top anticipated amount for special-purpose, local-option sales tax, or SPLOST.
The school system collected $922,528 in SPLOST funds in May, about $24,000 less than the same month last year, said Byron Jones, school system CFO, during Monday’s Board of Education caucus meeting. About three years in, the system has collected about $31.8 million out of the $59 million cap on what it can collect from SPLOST funds, according to school system documents.
The anticipated $59 million the school system set for collections at the beginning of the SPLOST is the maximum it could collect within in its five-year lifespan, Jones said. The system “will not get near” the $59 million cap after five years, he added.
Previously, the Board of Education had considered bonding up to $30 million and use it to fund projects up front, then paying off with the SPLOST collections, Jones noted. The bond would have added $3 million in payback on interest.
“So we recognized on the cabinet level and board level that that may not be a good decision, financially, to make at this time,” Jones said. “So, since the SPLOST receipts are down, we can balance out the need of them being down and not bonding (to) reduce receipts, and not spending the interest money. So hopefully that balances out in the end.”
Advocating for another SPLOST approval by voters at the end of the current five-year collection period, Jones said has been vital in creating longterm projects. SPLOST funds may only be used for approved capital expenses, like buildings and certain property purchases. It cannot be used for salaries or other general operation costs.
“We need to thank the voters for what they’ve done these three years,” he said “… We hope they see the projects we’re putting out there in the next two to three months and see the opportunity of what they have to reap over the next five years.”
One SPLOST project currently underway is the construction of the new Ethel Kight Elementary School. Jones estimated there was up to $2 million still owed on the construction of the school. He said two more payments for its construction are pending to contractors, which he said the system pays when it receives the monthly deposit of SPLOST funds from the state.