When Aiken County voters go to the polls in the November general election, their choices will include two questions both related to approving or rejecting a one-cent sales tax increase.
Aiken County Board of Education members are seeking public support to obtain revenue for new construction and maintenance needs. They approved the wording of questions that will appear on the ballot.
Over the possible 10-year length of the additional one-cent sales tax in place, if approved, it would generate an estimated $125 million, based on projections. Board members reiterated that revenue would not come from property taxes. The S.C. General Assembly ruled that 10 percent of the total revenue would be used to reduced existing property taxes.
The ballot, again, will list two questions. One specifically will ask voters to approve the sales tax hike. The other would authorize the Board to issue bonds as a mechanism to obtain the revenue.
The ballot will also describe how the funding will be utilized. The revenue from the sales tax would pay for some or all the costs of constructing and equipping additions, renovations and improvements ..., the ballot states in part.
There is a level of complexity the Board will have to explain to the public, said Board member Ray Fleming. Many residents believe the sales tax revenue would be used specifically for Aiken High School and North Augusta High replacing buildings on those campuses over the next decade.
However, other planned projects will be listed on the ballot. Funding will be provided by pooling the sales tax revenue with another funding source to accelerate the total projects a new Leavelle McCampbell Middle School, two additional phases on the Ridge Spring-Monetta High School campus and additions to the Aiken County Career and Technology Center.
The other funding source is a five-year plan for new construction and maintenance. The District issues a new bond each year and retires another generating about $17.5 million annually. That five-year plan is funded with property taxes. Thats the funding source that will be reduced by 10 percent if the sales tax is approved.
Levi Green, the Board vice chairman, represents the Beech Island, Jackson and New Ellenton areas. He has gotten calls from constituents, who are complaining that the projects should not be limited to the Aiken and North Augusta communities.
We need to show that other areas will get a piece of the pie, Green said.
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standards education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.
New Assistant Principals Approved
The following educators were appointed as assistant principals by the Board of Education on Tuesday. Some will split time in other roles. The school to which they have been assigned is listed.
Alisa Hamrick Aiken High School
Herbert Higgenbottom North Augusta High School, part-time teacher
John Burnham Silver Bluff High School, part-time teacher
Daniel Bartley Schofield Middle School, part-time teacher
Kimbra Herndon North Augusta Middle School
Leroy Walker Aiken Elementary School
Cynthia Hewitt Gloverville Elementary School, part-time guidance counselor
Leslie Bee Mossy Creek Elementary School
Denise Barnhart Redcliffe Elementary School