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Sales tax holiday has begun
Residents can save on school-related items Thursday through Sunday
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Forsyth County News

Shopping relief is back in the form of the seventh annual back-to-school sales tax holiday that runs through midnight Sunday.

Most school supplies, clothing and computers will be free of state and local taxes. Given the current economic slump, the 7 percent savings could be timely for families, as well as businesses.

In conjunction with the holiday, many retailers offer their largest back-to-school sales and discounts.

The weekly sale at the SuperTarget in Cumming will include "items for back to school, including clothing and school supplies," said Steve Reid, store manager.

"We feel school supplies are definitely a necessity for families, so even with the ... economy, we expect to be very busy this year."

The rollback on prices also is expected to lure large crowds to the Cumming Wal-Mart, where manager Russ Hilsher plans to offer savings on many school-related items.

Thanks to the tax-free holiday, Hilsher expects about a 20 to 25 percent increase in customer traffic over the weekend.

"I think consumers definitely think it's a good idea to have a tax-free weekend, because it's all about savings, and they can definitely save some money on that weekend," he said.

"With the economy the way it is, people will definitely be buying their school supplies ... during the tax-free weekend, just to try to save a few dollars."

Despite the perks to consumers and businesses, the holiday can have a negative financial impact on local schools and governments. With every dollar spent, Cumming and Forsyth County split a 1-cent sales tax and the school system collects a 1-cent sales tax of its own.

While many factors can contribute to a decrease in sales tax collections, school system figures show that the district saw a drop-off of about 23 percent from July to August last year.

"We do lose some income from it," said Ann Crow, a member of Forsyth County's school board. "We depend on that money to pay down our bonds and for building our buildings."

Lisa Levy won't be taking away county or school tax dollars. The Forsyth County mother of two daughters did her school shopping Monday.

"I do shop the circulars to get the best deals that I can, but I refuse to deal with crowds," she said. "I'm a working mom and I go when I can. I want it to be the most pleasant, stress-free time possible, and saving 7 percent isn't worth it.

"I think it's great if you're buying large-ticket items, but on the lists that kids bring home, I don't think it's worth the hassle for the small amount you save."

With all her purchases, Tracey Heffelfinger is one resident who will take advantage of the weekend, though not for her own children.

As a sixth-grade teacher at Little Mill Middle School, Heffelfinger said she and other staff "spend quite a bit of our own money to relieve the burden on students."

From the crayons and glue to rulers and books Heffelfinger uses in her Horizons science, language arts and literacy classes, she said she has "probably already spent about $2,000" this year.

"Anything we can use to lessen the burden is of great help to us," she said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue said in a statement that "past experience shows that retail stores will also benefit from an increase in sales, helping local economies to prosper."

"I encourage parents, students and teachers to take advantage of this weekend's sales tax holiday to purchase those much-needed supplies."