View Mobile Site

KCCC chair: let’s pass the referendum

Posted: October 9, 2014 4:12 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2014 1:00 a.m.

For almost three years, the school board and the district staff have been working on a referendum proposal for Phase 2 of the Facilities Equalization Program. The process to develop this proposal has been consistently transparent. There have been countless public meetings and the district has maintained a visible link on its website for almost a year to engage citizens and keep them informed. The district did a great job of managing the projects in Phase 1 and two of my nieces, along with all of their student peers, have already benefitted from the new Jackson School in Camden. Because of strong project and financial management, the district was able to fund about 15 additional projects beyond what was originally planned in Phase 1. The district has shown that it can manage a complex capital program effectively.

Now we’re at Phase 2. Phase 2 includes a number of critical projects that address problems that can no longer be fixed with the proverbial “band aid” method. If you go to the district website (www.kershaw.k12.sc.us), you’ll find a link about the referendum in red on the homepage with information on the proposed projects and pictures showing the need for repair, replacement, or renovation. Completion of these projects will address the district’s non-growth related facilities needs for 30-plus years. In the absence of raising funds through the referendum, money will need to be taken from classrooms or raised through real property taxes to fund these projects.

As someone who was raised and educated in Kershaw County, I am honored to serve as the chairman of the Kershaw County Citizens for Children (KCCC), which is leading the campaign to pass the referendum. It is a privilege for me to participate in this effort. I have two children of my own who will soon be going to school, and I want them and all the children of our county to have facilities that reflect the excellence of the teachers, coaches, and other staff who do such an outstanding job with our students day in and day out. I am especially excited to be working with a very committed group of citizens on this campaign, including Gene Branham, Cathe Epps, Bruce Little, Reggie Lloyd, Greg Newman, Derial Ogburn, and Dennis Stuber.

In promoting the referendum, we want everyone to know it will have two questions. One question asks voters for permission to issue bonds for the projects, while the other one requests approval of a one-percent sales tax for 15 years to pay off the bonds. Voting “yes” on both questions will mean that all projects can be funded without an increase in property taxes.

So, why should you vote “yes” twice on the referendum questions? I believe there are several very real and practical reasons.

First, all of these projects can be completed without an increase in property taxes. If the penny sales tax generates more that its current conservative projection, the funds can be used to pay down other debt or to decrease debt service millage, reducing the school district’s millage needs in relation to the county.

Second, a sales tax is the fairest way to fund needs that touch the entire county. Please know I generally disfavor any tax increase. However, through a sales tax, people who don’t own a home, business or rental property, as well as people who don’t even live in our community, will help to fund the projects. I would point out that when you go to Sandhills, the sales tax you pay there goes to fund projects in Richland County, which already spends a great deal more on education than we do in Kershaw County. In my view, not voting yes twice for the referendum would be an unfair punt on the facility issues we face, potentially resulting in a reversion to the “band aid” repair methods of the past.

Third, the projects will create efficiencies and cost savings that can be directed back into classrooms. Newer schools will be significantly more energy efficient than ones that are 40 or more years old. The consolidation of the three rural elementary schools in the North Central area will generate in excess of $600,000 in savings. That’s five or six teachers, eight or nine assistants, or a significant amount of supplies and library books. These funds could also be used to fund more competitive salaries for our outstanding teachers, coaches, and other employees.

Finally, the referendum projects will promote economic development. We need sound economic development in Kershaw County. New and refurbished schools are a natural magnet for young families and business development. Perhaps the most important project in terms of economic development is the Joint Economic Development Campus, which would be built out on the current Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) site near the I-20 exit for Camden.

The Joint Economic Development Campus would include a modernized ATEC, an expanded CCTC facility, Adult Education, the County Economic Development Office, and a “business incubator,” which would provide an incoming business or industry space to train its workforce while they are still in school obtaining educational credits. Of course, this would be a complementary benefit for students and employers alike. Imagine the impact this facility would have in terms of attracting business and industry, broadening our tax base and reducing the overall tax pressure on everyone. The Joint Economic Development Campus is a game changer in terms of economic development in our community.

I think the choice is clear for Kershaw County: vote “yes” twice on November 4!

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Contents of this site are © Copyright 2018 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...