Ginger Bailey was the first item on the commissioners’ Jan. 15 agenda and she explained the purpose of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the importance of the continuation of the one-cent tax.
Before the ESPLOST was approved by Jones County voters in 1998, schools were funded with bond issues and it took decades to pay off the debt. In contrast with the ESPLOST, the buildings are paid for by the time they are completed.
Clifton Ridge Middle School, Dames Ferry Elementary, Wells Primary School, the renovation of the Califf Complex to house the ninth grade campus, and Turner Woods Elementary were all paid for with the one-cent sales tax.
Since 2002, schools have not received a dime from the lottery or from the state for technology. ESPLOST funds have funded new computers and software and have purchased new buses.
Bailey emphasized that the ESPLOST is not a new tax but a renewal of the tax that has been in existence since 1999. She said Gray Elementary has been a good school, but because of its age, it is no longer eligible for any state funds.
“It needs to be replaced but without the ESPLOST, we cannot build the school,” she said.
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