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School tax vote Tuesday
Turnout light in advance
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Forsyth County News

Poll hours
• All precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
• To find your precinct, go online at www.forsythco.com/voterlookupapp.
• For results from Tuesday's election, go online at www.forsythnews.com.

Voter ID
• Voters must have one of the following six forms of identification: Georgia driver's license, valid ID card by any state or U.S. with photo, valid U.S. passport, valid government employee photo ID, valid U.S. military ID card with photo or valid tribal ID card with photo.

Fewer than 2,500 voters cast ballots ahead of Tuesday's referendum on whether to extend the local 1-cent sales tax for education.

“It’s just been real slow,” said Forsyth County Elections Supervisor Barbara Luth. “With the numbers we’ve been getting, [turnout] will be under 5 percent.”

Early and advance voting ended Friday, but voters still have Tuesday to weigh in on the proposed continuation of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST.

If approved, the current 1-cent tax would be extended on July 1, 2012, for five years, or until tax collections hit a cap of $195 million.

Voters have trickled in, Luth said, though not many seem to understand the issue.

“They ask, ‘What are we voting for?’ And when they see a sample ballot, they look to see what it is,” Luth said.

“When people come in, they’re glad to see it’s not an additional tax. It’s just an extension to a tax that’s already there.”  

The confusion comes despite public meetings on the issue and various signs dotting the landscape.

If approved, about $141.4 million of the sales tax program would go toward paying off voter-approved bonds from 2005 and '07.

The bond issues were used to fund construction of nine new campuses, including Lambert and West Forsyth high schools, as well as improve, update and expand existing facilities.

The remaining $53.6 million could be used, among other possibilities, to buy land for future schools, improve technology at existing campuses and renovate facilities.

Steve Page is north chairman of Citizens 4 Kids, an organization backing the proposal.

“It's really important that we continue to support our schools,” he said. “By voting ‘yes’ on the SPLOST, that will kind of spread it out among the people, even people that don’t live in the county, instead of putting the burden just on the property owners.”

If the measure fails, the school system would have to wait an additional year before it could return to the ballot.

If it were to fail again, the school system would likely have to pay down the 2005 and 2007 bond debts by increasing property taxes.

The current sales tax, which expires on June 30, 2012, was expected to raise about $207 million to pay off the system's bond debts.

But citing the slow economy, officials have said the actual collection likely will total less than $150 million.