Highlights of meeting on 9/16/2013

Board member Mike Buckel presented a brief synopsis of the SPLOST III sales tax expiring Dec. 31, 2014.  Mr. Buckel also explained the HCPOA position on SPLOST IV stressing  the open-ended wording and lack of commitment to do specific projects in the proposal; lack of a needs analysis and cost study; and need to apply business like methodology to design, prioritizing projects and obtain valid cost figures to realistically complete specific projects and contain expenses. Mr. Buckel invited our guest speaker, Board of Education member, Mr. Paul Abernathy to present his views.

Mr. Abernathy advised he “could not speak for the Board” but would try to explain their position in promoting a 2013 vote on SPLOST IV.  Mr. Abernathy distributed a SPLOST ballot handout to members indicating monies received and projects covered by proceeding SPLOST funds.  Significant points were:  a.) At the end of 2014 Hart County should not have any carry-over debt from past SPLOST projects;  b.) Monetary advantage to securing loan $$ while bond interest is at a low interest rate;  c.) The purpose of a $25 million cap in SPLOST III and Georgia state policy governing it;  d.) Ultimately, sales tax revenue for SPLOST 3 & 4 is dependent on economic conditions;  e.) Reassured members that the Board was tracking expenses and should an economic downturn occur, there is a reserve of $1.8 million to meet necessary expenses;  f.) The inclusion of referendum wording that reads The County Board of Commissioner’s shall be required to levy a tax on all property subject to taxation should the school system fall short of the debt payments is only a “ last resort safeguard” and is required to show bond holders we will meet our debt. Mr. Abernathy advised members of numerous users and activities involving school facilities promoting student achievement and the need to allow some flexibility in SPLOST wording for unseen expenses and economic conditions.