ATLANTA - Today, voters in Georgia will be considering items in addition to the presidential nominations, as they are presented with bond referendums and tax proposals for capital projects that will support the state's growing population.
The largest bond referendum is from Gwinnett County, which is located to the north of Atlanta. Voters there will decide if the county's Board of Education can issue $750 million of general obligation bonds. Residents of the city of Atlanta will consider renewing a one percent sales tax that has been used to help fund its water and sewer improvement program.
In Forsyth County, which is also located north of Atlanta, voters will consider extending the special purpose local sales tax for another five years. Proceeds are expected to generate at least $100 million, which will be used to fund projects on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Clayton County voters will also decide whether or not to renew a sales tax. Specifically, they will vote on approving a one percent sales tax increase to put towards roughly $305 million of projects, including libraries, roads and a juvenile justice center. The funds will be expended on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Gwinnett County's school system is the largest in the state. If approved, officials plan to use the bond proceeds to build eight schools and make additions to 10 schools. They are trying to do away with trailers and put students into actual classrooms in school buildings. The funds also will be used to buy land for future schools, upgrade technology throughout the system and make other facility and infrastructure improvements in the district.
The district last sold debt in August, when it issued $425 million.
Officials say these projects are a part of a plan put in place in 2006 as a way to bring the school system's classroom needs in check by 2014. This bond referendum, if approved, would represent Phase II of that plan.
School officials warn that if this referendum does not pass, construction of new schools and classrooms would come to a halt.
In Atlanta, officials warned that the sales tax that is in place must be renewed to avoid hefty rate hikes for water and sewer users. The city is in the midst of a roughly $3.2 billion capital improvement program for its water and sewer system. Financial officials for the city say they have not determined when any debt would be sold for the improvements. q