By Katie Fallon
The city council on Tuesday approved a resolution endorsing the passage of the Fulton County School Board’s third Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), but not before vocalizing serious concerns about the equitable distribution of the funds.
The resolution, which passed with a 5 to 1 vote, with District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio in opposition, concerns the SPLOST III vote that will take place on March 20. The referendum will ask Fulton County voters whether or not the once-cent sales tax should continue for what the school district refers to as “Pennies for Progress.”
SPLOST was first passed in 1997 and again in 2002. SPLOST III would also last for five years and its revenues would fund capital improvements such as building new schools, renovating existing facilities, acquiring land for future school sites and updating technology.
Introduced by District 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, the resolution cited the inequitable proportion of revenues contributed by Sandy Springs residents versus per-student expenditures in the community as reason for five provisions included with the council’s endorsement of SPLOST III.
Because of a $53 million inequity between revenue and expenditures, the resolution cited provisions that included deadlines for school openings, renovations and redistricting lines as well as limits on portable trailers. The passage of the resolution followed a presentation by the school system’s communications director Mitzi Woody, who was peppered with questions by the mayor as well as each member of the city council.
DeJulio was the most outspoken opponent of endorsing the latest SPLOST referendum.
“They’re taking old schools and rebuilding them when we need new schools,” DeJulio said. “We have to ensure that our children have the facilities they need and what’s fair where other parts of the county are get getting all these new schools and all we’re getting are additions.”
District 3 Councilman Rusty Paul said the issues the city is having with the school board were very similar to the reasons why incorporation proponents wanted to annex Sandy Springs from Fulton County.
“We don’t get any cooperation from the school board with anything we want to do with the city,” Paul said.
The council also cited the overcrowding at Woodland, Dunwoody Springs and High Point elementary schools as some of the worst problems with Sandy Springs’ schools. District 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins, for instance, told the council that because of the overcrowding at Woodland, her daughter has to eat lunch at 10:20 a.m. and have her science class in a stairwell.
Jenkins further noted Sandy Springs residents have disapproved of SPLOST in the past.
“Hasn’t the city of Sandy Springs, or what is now the city, consistently voted against SPLOST every time?” Jenkins said.