Special to SEGAZINE
Local voters approved the renewal of Wayne County’s E-SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax for education) by a margin of 2,501 (69 percent) to 1,122 (31 percent) in a countywide referendum Tuesday.
The turnout of the county’s 13,294 registered voters—the number on election day, according to the official election results—was 27.3 percent (16.4 percent on election day, 9.9 percent in early voting and 1 percent by mailed-in absentee ballots).
The E-SPLOST passed in all but one of Wayne County’s 15 geographical precincts. East Jesup voted against the E-SPLOST 17-15. The VFW precinct had the highest percentage of voters favoring the E-SPLOST—81.4 percent.
Voter turnout by precinct ranged from 34.1 percent in Odum to 15.6 percent in the VFW.
The new E-SPLOST will begin July 1, immediately following the end of the current E-SPLOST, and will continue for the next five years.
The tax will fund construction of new Odum and Martha Rawls Smith Elementary schools and will reimburse the school system for completion costs of Jesup Elementary School.
To the extent that funds are available, the tax will also pay for buses, computers, textbooks, a new high school track and security equipment.
By paying for capital expenses that cannot be completely avoided, the E-SPLOST is expected to result in lower property taxes.
The referendum not only authorized continuation of the E-SPLOST to raise up to $25 million in additional revenue but also authorized the Wayne County Board of Education to borrow up to $20 million against the projected E-SPLOST revenue to pay for approved capital projects up front.
The new E-SPLOST was supported by the Children First Committee and received at least 28 separate community endorsements. It was opposed by the Vote No E-SPLOST Committee.