Opponents of the upcoming Cobb Education SPLOST IV referendum announced today they will hold a rally this weekend.
The Cobb Taxpayers Association said a "Rock the E-SPLOST" rally will take place from 12-1 p.m. Sunday at the Marietta Square.
Among the speakers are former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, who lost his bid to return to his old job in last year's elections and Kim Euston, the former chairwoman of the Cobb Board of Education's Facilities and Technology Committee, which conducts SPLOST oversight.
Also fighting the Education SPLOST extension is the Cobb-based Georgia Tea Party.
“This rally represents the culmination of a tremendous grassroots effort to defeat the E-SPLOST,” CTA president Lance Lamberton said in a statement. “It is also an opportunity to thank our supporters for their hard work in fighting to reduce taxes and wasteful government spending.”
Advance voting is underway for the March 19 Cobb SPLOST IV referendum. Voters may cast ballots this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cobb Elections main office, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta.
Voters are being asked extend the one-penny SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which would collect $772 million between 2014-2018 for construction and maintenance projects in the Cobb County School District and Marietta City Schools.
Of the $717 million for Cobb schools, $20.5 million would be earmarked for North Cobb High to replace the gym and construct a theater addition, $953,000 for interior and exterior painting and $350,000 to resurface the athletic track; $19.3 million for Harrison High to replace the gym and build a theater additon, $6.7 million to replace the HVAC system and $633,000 to replace windows and doors; $3 million for Awtrey Middle to replace the HVAC system, $382,000 for other HVAC upgrades and $210,000 for gym electrical upgrades; and $210,000 for Baker Elementary for gym electrical upgrades.
A total of $20 million in renovations would be spent in Marietta, which would collect $55.4 million in SPLOST money if the referendum passes. Another $15 million would be used to help retire debt and $13 million is slated for technology upgrades. (see attached PDF)
SPLOST opponents have been critical of the Cobb career academy proposal, and gymnasium and theater replacements at various high schools.
At a recent town hall meeting in East Cobb, Lamberton told Patch there are too many "wants" included in the SPLOST IV project list, including athletic and performing arts facilities.
He cited the recently opened performing arts center at Lassiter High School, which cost nearly $15 million in current SPLOST III funds to build.
"It's a Taj Mahal! Give me a break," he said. "The needs are a lot less than what [SPLOST supporters] are calling for."
Although his group also opposed the 2011 Cobb government SPLOST which passed by fewer than 100 votes and last year's defeated Atlanta region transportation SPLOST, Lamberton said he's not categorically opposed to the idea of a sales tax.
"We're opposed to this SPLOST," he said of the Ed SPLOST, which was first approved overwhelmingly by Cobb voters in 1998 and has been extended two more times.
Lamberton said he supports HB 153, sponsored by State Rep. John Carson (R-East Cobb), which would create a "fractional" SPLOST that would enable the collection of less than a penny.
Cobb school board member Scott Sweeney said at the East Cobb town hall that a fractional SPLOST only would delay the construction of projects that the tax would pay for.
He and SPLOST supporters have said that if the SPLOST IV referendum fails, the Cobb school district would be forced to take out a bond issue to pay for construction projects that would end up being more costly. SPLOST taxes over the years have helped the district become debt-free.
But Euston has been especially outspoken against the SPLOST IV project list, saying it was hastily assembled and asked for the vote to be delayed until November.
Last fall, as the Cobb school board scheduled the referendum, she told board members that "anti-tax, anti-government sentiment is high in Cobb. This project list as it is will not pass in March."
Advance voting will continue from 9 am. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday next week at various satellite locations in Cobb:
- East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta;
- South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton;
- NorthStar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road NW, Kennesaw;
- Boots Ward Recreation Center, Lost Mountain Park, 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs.
Advance voting also will take place at the main Cobb Elections office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday of next week.
Voters who cannot vote in person may apply to Vote-by-Mail by mailing a signed application to the Cobb County Elections Office at P.O. Box 649, Marietta, GA 30061, by faxing to 770-528-2458, or by scanning and emailing it as an attachment to Info@cobbelections.org.
Applications are available at www.CobbElections.org. Voted ballots must be received by 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 19. For any questions regarding registration or voting, call 770-528-2581. A sample ballot is available at www.CobbElections.org or at www.sos.ga.gov/MVP.
A sample ballot is attached as a PDF file.