Members of the Cartersville City Council convened via videoconference Thursday morning for a special-called meeting, with the lone item on the agenda being a resolution to set June 9 as the date of an education special purpose local option sales tax referendum.
Council members voted unanimously to approve the new joint-school district ESPLOST referendum date, which was originally scheduled for May 19.
“Of course, due to the pandemic, that election got postponed,” said City of Cartersville Assistant Attorney Keith Lovell. “They have both met, I believe it was Monday of this week, and they have a joint resolution to reschedule that election until June 9.”
The Bartow County Board of Elections and Voter Registration is scheduled to vote on the rescheduled referendum date at a special-called meeting set for 3 p.m. on Monday.
“The election board will take care of everything else,” Lovell said. “At some point after the election, the [city clerk] and the city council will actually have to confirm the election results, but there’s nothing ya’ll need to do pre-election.”
The resolution approval is required, Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini said, in order for the election board to move forward with their own vote on the matter.
Coinciding with the general primary elections, the referendum will ask voters whether or not they approve of the reimposition of a 1% sales tax within the county for a maximum of 20 calendar quarters.
Per that joint resolution, Bartow County Schools is eyeing a “maximum cost” of $120 million in potential ESPLOST projects, while Cartersville City Schools is projecting a $36 million ESPLOST project total.
Both school districts indicate the ESPLOST revenue would go towards renovations and repairs to existing schools and facilities, as well as additional land acquisition costs and expenditures related to school buses and other modes of transportation.
If approved, the revenue allocated for Bartow County Schools would go towards the cost of “acquiring, constructing and equipping one new elementary school and one new middle school, or alternately, an addition to an existing middle school,” as well as the costs of administrative technology improvements and “renovating, repairing, improving and equipping existing school buildings, athletics facilities and other buildings and facilities useful or desirable in connection therewith.”
For Cartersville City Schools, the tax revenue would go towards “the cost of acquiring, constructing and equipping one or more new schools and other buildings and facilities” and “repaying debt incurred by the City of Cartersville for all or any of such purposes.”
If the ESPLOST referendum passes, the resolution indicates that also constitutes “approval of the issuance of general obligation debt” — in the form of general obligation bonds, promissory notes or other instruments as approved by the Bartow County School Board — in an aggregate principal amount of $45 million.
“Such general obligation debt, if so authorized, shall be dated as of the first day of the month of delivery or such other dates as the Bartow board may approve," the resolution reads, "[and] shall bear interest from [the] date at such rate or rates as the Bartow board may approve, but not exceeding 6% per annum in any year."
Under that scenario, interest would be paid on the first days of April and October each year, with the first payment slotted for this fall. The resolution indicates the school board would have the ability to approve principal maturity by mandatory redemption.
“The general obligation debt of the Bartow district may be issued in one or more series, and on one or more dates of issuance as the Bartow board may approve— provided, however, that the aggregate principal amount of such general obligation debt shall not exceed $45 million,” the resolution states. “Parts of the proceeds of the sales and use tax received by the Bartow district will be used for payment of general obligation debt of the Bartow district issued in conjunction with the reimposition of the sales and use tax, and the remaining proceeds of the sales and use tax received by the Bartow district will be used to fund the Bartow projects to the extent the Bartow projects have not been funded with proceeds of such general obligation debt.”