Shouldn’t the paying public know?


Updated March 16, 2018 Since 2010 (as far back as online records go), Mickey Cummings has been paid $24,878.60 as an EMPLOYEE of the Union County School Board as PUBLIC RELATIONS PERSONNEL. Since when does a school system need public relations? Maybe to convince the public to give them more money? Check it out here: Where else has the Union County School Board wasted money? The TAXPAYERS deserve to know.

Updated on Feb. 16, 2018. Do you have a question about spending to ask the School Board? If you can get past the vetting process and get on the agenda, here is what you will be advised of before you speak. You must never forget that you are only the TAXPAYER – the one who foots the bill.
Do YOU wonder what is on “The List” of projects for the next ESPLOST? Well, so do we! At the January 16, 2018 school board meeting the board voted to approve the ballot resolution language. Did they share this with the TAXPAYERS in attendance? Of course not. They will share it with you in due time, when they feel like it. Actually, we will make an Open Records Request this evening and pick up the information (and PAY FOR IT) probably early next wee
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the “transparency” and openess of your Union County School Board. This is how they regard the folks who foot the bill.
Stay tuned.

Update January 22, 2018
We had HOPED that the “list” might have a few more specifics about how the Union County School Board intends to spend the TAXPAYERS’ $21 MILLION. But alas, no such luck, Intentionally vague to allow spending without planning. Isn’t that the best kind? And what, exactly would those “new school system facilities” be? And how much will they cost? And what studies show we need them? Silly questions. They will spend it as they please, there will never be enough TAXPAYER MONEY to run the schools, even though Union County already spends 20% more per pupil than the state average (which does not include E-SPLOST spending.
Vote NO. Let’s identify needs first, then find funding.

“Why are there hardly any TAXPAYERS at the Union County School Board Meetings?”you ask. Well, have a look at the following video excerpts from the January 16, 2018 workshop and meeting and you may get the picture. All relevant information is shared WITH THE BOARD ONLY. No hard copies of anything for the TAXPAYERS who foot the bill. Great care is taken to avoid discussing numbers. Therefore, there is nothing of substance to be learned. Board discussion is kept to a bare minimum. If a TAXPAYER should be so bold as to request to be put on the agenda to speak, the grueling cross-examination by the administration required before one can be permitted on the agenda ensures they will never try that again! These are some (but by no means all) of the reasons there are hardly any TAXPAYERS at the meetings
That’s OK. In May, TAXPAYERS will show up at the polls.

From the October 24th Union County School Board Workshop, this is the “process” of planning the next E-SPLOST: Step One: DECIDE COLLECTION AMOUNT. This is the most important step. It is not how much you NEED, it is how much you think you can GET. Big Difference. Thankfully, Raymond James Financial, the main issuer of SPLOST bonds in Georgia is here to help! They recommend from $23 to $25 MILLION. They caution of setting the maximum too low, in case you get lucky and go over – wouldn’t want to do that! Now, step two is to decide on projects. Is that putting the cart before the horse? See the video of the workshop here
which consists almost entirely of the Raymond James representative’s presentation. Call the school board and ask who runs our schools – Wall Street or the school board. Ask them why the first step is determining how much of OUR money they can collect. What in the WORLD do they need another $25 million for? And who will maintain it?
At the September 19 meeting, the School Board approved the purchase of 10 buses at a total cost of $1,016,899 from E-SPLOST funds. This is great news, and fulfills one of the “pressing needs” cited in the 2013 E-SPLOST campaign.
And it was a little bit of a surprise, especially since in the August meeting they approved the purchase and installation of 44 camera/GPS systems to cover the entire fleet of buses. If they had planned at that time to buy 10 buses, they would have only approved the purchase of 34 camera/GPS units, as the new buses come with the cameras pre-installed.
So, what happened? Could it have anything to do with the TAXPAYER who spoke at the August meeting about the prior expressed need to replace 10 buses (in 2013) and the fact that only one bus had been purchased so far? Who knows? But here it is a whole month later, and we’re getting 10 new buses, and that’s a good thing.
Looks like we won’t desperately need buses on the next E-SPLOST campaign, like we have for the past 9 years. Looks like we can PAUSE the E-SPLOST for a few years.
You can see the TAXPAYER’s comments here:

Despite the threat of rising taxes if the E-SPLOST did not pass, school property tax RATES have risen much faster than the school enrollment, and the actual school property tax COLLECTED is over three times what it was in 1998. (adjusted for inflation). The actual inflation rate since 1998 is 50%. . This does not include the approximately $75 Million generated by E-SPLOST. This is out of control. Time to pause the E-SPLOST for a few years.

his is what happens when you look for ways to spend the Esplost.

Since the first Union County E-SPLOST in 1998:
School Property Tax Revenue has MORE THAN TRIPLED.
School Property Tax Millage Rate has increased by 39.64%
School K-12 Enrollment has increased ONLY 5.32%
And we STILL can’t make ends meet without a 1% Sales Tax?!

n Fiscal Year 2016, Union County Schools spent $11, 006.53 PER STUDENT. This is 22% HIGHER than the Georgia state average of $9,020.46.…/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form
This does not include the approximately $4 MILLION per year generated by the E-SPLOST. How can we possibly be spending this much? On what? Do they really need more? Why is this?
For the record, we are using figures from the Georgia Department of Education website, at the link provided above, accessible to all. There may be other ways to “massage” the numbers, but if it’s good enough for the official state website, it’s good enough. We are wary of numbers without source documentation. You should be, too
In 1998, Union County spent $4986.63 per student.
There were 119 school districts in Georgia that spent more per student, out of 180
Fast forward to 2016, Union County spent $11,006 per student. There were only 20 districts out of 200 that spent more.…/o…/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form…
That $4986.63 in 1998 would be $7,342.49 in 2016 dollars adjusted for inflation.
These figures do not include the $3 Million + per year in E-SPLOST spending. Really. Enough is Enough.
So, let’s be clear about the sales taxes we pay in Union County. First, we have the 4% State Sales Tax – this tax exempts food and gasoline. Next, we have the 1% L.O.S.T. – Local Option Sales Tax. This tax replaces some of our property taxes with sales tax. We pay this on everything, including food and gasoline. Next, we have the 1% S.P.L.O.S.T. – Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. This is the tax for COUNTY capital projects – for example the Community Center, Farmers Market, etc. We pay this tax on everything, including food and gasoline. Finally, we have the 1% E-SPLOST – The Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. This tax is for capital projects of the Board of Education, such as the Ag Center, the Fine Arts Center and the current $7.5 MILLION expansion/renovation of the High School and Middle School. We pay this tax on everything, including food and gasoline.
So, you see we have a total of 7%. 3% for the county on everything we purchase, and 4% to the state with certain exemptions.
The E-SPLOST has been ongoing for almost 20 years. It is time to take a break. What is left to build? We can hardly afford to maintain what we have.


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