SANDERSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Washington county residents will decide Tuesday, if they should continue paying a one cent sales tax that funds education projects.
The Educational Special Local Option Sales tax is on the county's Nov. 5, ballot. Voters will decide, if they will extend the county's ESPLOST or face an increase in property taxes.
The issue has been debated among county residents.
"There are people who argue and say a building doesn't educate them, teachers do," said Washington County Board of Education member, Paul Turner, "That building is necessary. We can't do it under a tent in a field."
Turner is a Washington County Board of Education Member (BOE). He said the school system needs the money to complete the new county high school. It would replace the existing school which was built in 1959.
The chairman of the BOE said the county owes five million dollars in bonds from the last time residents approved an ESPLOST in 2006.
"In terms of the five million dollars we owe on bonds," said Lamar Binion, Washington County BOE Chairman. "There's not but two ways to pay for that we can either, renew the sales tax and pay for it with sales tax, or either we can pay for it with property taxes."
According to Washington County's voter registration office, only 446 people out of nearly 12-thousand registered voters cast ballots during early voting.
ESPLOST is the only item on the county-wide Nov. 5, ballot.
The penny sales tax aims to raise 23 million dollars, money that will also be used for upgrades at schools across Washington County.
"If we can educate our kids then maybe we don't need so many jails in the future," added Turner. "It's a freedom for these children. That's what education is."
Word of Life Senior Pastor, Michael Parker is a graduate of Washington County High. He says students in his congregation need the new school and the upgrades.
"It's going to help our infrastructure as far as dealing with our educational system, and help provide a great system for the future for our kids," said Parker.
ESPLOST funds can only be used for capital projects or to retire debt. ESPLOST funding cannot be used for operating expenses such as salaries.
"I'm going to vote for ESPLOST," said Tennille resident Dorothy Yorker. "Because, I have a daughter that's in the fifth grade and she's going to the middle school next year and anything that's beneficial to her I'm with it."
Sandersville resident, William Young believes every generation should educate the next generation.
"You've have children that's been going to school, so why would you not vote yes, to help other people's kids," said Young.
A couple of people declined to comment using their names however one said she had some concerns that the money collected from the ESPLOST would be misused.
But, school board member Paul Turner said the ESPLOST referendum spells out exactly how the money will be spent.