If you care about public education in Lanier County, you need to take a few minutes today and visit your polling place.

County voters are being asked whether to extend a 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education. About 25 percent of the county's 3,090 voters are expected to turn out.

Why should you support this tax? It spreads the burden of paying for schools onto consumers of all income levels rather than merely property owners. Those on fixed income are especially strapped when local officials depend too much on the property tax.

Lanier school officials say if the extension of the SPLOST fails today, they could be forced to raise the millage rate to 20 mills to repay a $675,000 construction loan and to make other school improvements.

The bottom line for Lanier and other school systems in Georgia is likely to worsen as state officials continue to cut funding because of their budget crunch. Local sales taxes will become an even more important source of revenue for board members and administrators.

Revenue from the current SPLOST in Lanier has been used to build new classrooms at Lanier County Elementary School and Lanier County High School, add an administrative wing at the elementary school, expand the cafeteria at the elementary school and high school, and purchase land adjoining school property and school buses.

If voters agree today, the SPLOST will be continued for another five years beyond next March or until $2.4 million is collected. Specific projects will include the modification of the multi-purpose room at Lanier County Elementary School into classrooms and bathroom spaces, building of a full-size gymnasium to replace the multi-purpose room at Lanier County Elementary School, replacing the roof at Lanier County Elementary School, purchasing lights for the Lady Dawg softball field, adding classrooms and bathroom spaces at Lanier County High School and purchasing a new school bus.

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