August 23, 2014 7:55:24 PM
Tuesday, registered voters who live in the Lowndes County School District will go to the polls to vote on a $47 million bond issue to build, replace and renovate school facilities.
As is the case with every instance where voters are asked to raise their own taxes, the benefits must be obvious.
We believe this proposal meets that standard and should be viewed not as a tax hike, but as a wise investment. Not only will the bond money allow the district to address the issues of overcrowding in fast-growing Caledonia, it will facilitate replacing aging buildings on the New Hope campus. Perhaps most important of all, it will create a centralized modern career tech center which will help ensure our students have the necessary skills to secure good-paying jobs in our burgeoning manufacturing/industrial fields.
The good thing about this bond issue is that the tax increase it requires will likely be offset by a surge of ad valorem payments from local industries, an expected $10 million per year five years from now. While they can't outright say it, school officials think a tax increase required by the bond issue will, in short time, be more than offset by these increased revenues.
The bond issue is part of a larger, $73 million master plan. The district has demonstrated good faith in funding the first phase of the plan, a $27 million project that addressed needs at both West Lowndes and Caledonia.
While some suggest the district should fund this second phase as well, we believe the bond allows the district to address immediate needs on favorable terms. Right now, the interest rate on a bond would be somewhere between 2.75 and 3 percent. If there is a time to borrow, this is it.
If the bond issue secures the 60 percent vote required, the average homeowner in the district could see an $8-to-$10 increase in taxes. As stated above, as county industries move from in-lieu fees to ad valorem payments, the school district will see its tax revenue increase. Much of that money will be returned to the taxpayer, say school officials. Ultimately, there is every reason to believe that -- even with this self-imposed tax hike -- residents will be paying less in taxes in five years than they do today. In the meantime, residents will have renovated, modern schools to show for the investment they make on Tuesday.
It is the right move at the right time.
We encourage voters to support the bond issue at the polls Tuesday.