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Forsyth County News

Lanier Tech opens Forsyth events center

By: Jim Dean

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By: Jim Dean

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Forsyth County voters on Tuesday will decide if the existing sales tax to support education should be renewed for an additional five years. We think there are compelling reasons to vote yes on the education SPLOST.

At its core, the sales tax is the most equitable form of generating public funds. It collects revenues from everyone, whereas ad valorem taxes are paid only by those who own property.

A sales tax also generates revenue from those who spend money in the county even though they live elsewhere. Every time an out-of-county shopper spends a dollar at a retail store in Forsyth County, a penny goes to suppport financing of local projects.

With new retail centers like The Avenue, and the stores along Market Place Boulevard in Cumming, Forsyth stands to benefit from taxes paid by those who live elsewhere.

It is important for voters to remember that Tuesday’s referendum is for a sales tax for school system projects only. It does not incorporate any functions of the county nor city governments, but rather provides funding only for the county school system.

It is also important to remember that this is not a new tax levy, but rather the continuation of an existing tax. If approved, county residents will not be paying any more than they have been for the past several years.

But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to support the SPLOST on Tuesday is the fact that more than 70 percent of revenues expected to be collected during the five year duration of the tax will go toward paying down existing debt that otherwise will have to be paid with property taxes.

Most of us agree that reducing public debt is a step that must be taken by governmental entities at every level. Paying off existing long-term bonds with a sales tax will reduce the overall cost of those bonds by shortening their retirement, as well as sharing the burden among all of those who spend money in the county rather than having it paid only by those who own property.

Again, the debt has to be paid. The question is whether it will be paid through property taxes, or via the sales tax.

The portion of the sales tax proceeds that does not go toward debt reduction will help the school system to prepare for the future by financing purchase of land for new schools, renovating existing facilities and investing in technology.

The county school system has an exemplary record in management of previous sales tax collections and has proven a reliable steward of SPLOST funds.

For most of those in Forsyth County, the level of expectation for the county’s school system is high. Continuing to support the schools with the SPLOST is a financially sound way to make sure those high standards are met.
We encourage your “yes” vote on Tuesday.