The wording of a referendum on a one-cent sales tax that could raise as much as $195 million is being reviewed by the local school districts it would benefit.
The Gainesville City Schools and Hall County School District boards of education reviewed and approved some of the language for the education special purpose local option sales tax, E-SPLOST, at the boards’ meetings Monday.
The Nov. 3 referendum is an intergovernmental agreement among the two school districts and Buford City Schools. The language of the referendum details the maximum amount of money each district can get from the tax. Hall County and Gainesville’s earnings are based on “full-time equivalency,” or the head count of students.
Out of a maximum of $195 million that can possibly be raised from the tax, Hall can earn a maximum of $147 million, and Gainesville can earn a maximum of $42.9 million.
Initially, the Gainesville school board predicted the district’s capital projects would total about $30.5 million.
But Chris Griner, Gainesville chief financial officer, said the $42.9 million would be the “maximum potential” the district could earn and gives it “room to grow.”
Currently, E-SPLOST puts a penny of every dollar spent in Hall County toward local school systems’ capital projects.
“This is not a new tax,” said Hall Superintendent Will Schofield. “This would be a continuation of the current tax, E-SPLOST IV. What you would see in E-SPLOST IV, we would use this for the same things.”
Both Schofield and Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel listed the items E-SPLOST funds can purchase for a school district, including construction, renovation, electronic devices, textbooks or electronic textbooks, buses and more.
Griner said the language of the referendum is similar for all three districts, and it combines them into one document. Buford City Schools’ board is expected to review its portion of the language this week.
Creel expressed her gratitude to the other districts in working together to prepare for the referendum.
“We have come to this with a great deal of collaboration with the other school districts,” she said. “So I do want to say a thank-you for the collaboration between Buford, Hall County and Gainesville City to even get to this place where we have these documents to bring forward.”