In the land of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, there was an Emperor who got hoodwinked into parading around his kingdom in nothing but his birthday suit. The hoodwinker was an opportunistic salesperson who took advantage of the fact that no one dared to question the Emperor – what he said was law, even if it didn’t make sense.
But this isn’t the land of fairy tales, the people of this land are thinkers, they challenge the status quo, they don’t blindly do whatever their leadership says – even when dissenting with the popular opinion is unpopular and difficult.
Many of the people of this land are voting NO on the ESPLOST referendum coming up for a vote in Gwinnett County on Nov. 8.
The people of this land realize that the GCPS [Gwinnett County Public Schools] board wants to take out a loan to get the money and spend it NOW before it is generated by the ESPLOST. So, what happens if they borrow $200 and they only raise $125 in taxes? We understand that borrowing the money so it can be spent before it is generated shows a great lack of fiduciary responsibility.
The people of this land have done the math and realize that when money is borrowed it has to be paid back with interest. Those payments come out of the normal operating budget – a budget that is already woefully thin. Think about it in terms of your own household budget. Let’s say you have $100 to spend every month on necessities. You decide you want some new things so you take out a loan for $200 to buy them. You have to pay back that $200 at a rate of $25 per month. Now you only have $75 each month in your budget to spend on your necessities. Taking out the loan for the “nice to haves” actually hurts your ability to continue to take care of your necessities. The people of this land would rather wait on the “nice to haves” and not go into more debt for them.
The people of this land have lost their faith in the judgment of the leadership. Questionable land deals for schools with questionable need cost the citizens of Gwinnett County millions of dollars. The oversight and accountability on how prior SPLOST money is spent are nonexistent. There is no guarantee that funds generated for “technology improvements” actually get spent in the classroom. And there is no guarantee that “technology improvements” won’t go to politically connected cronies with “technology improvement” companies that will charge a premium for their product at the taxpayer’s expense.
And the people of this land also know that times are hard right now and by wrapping the ESPLOST up in political jargon like “better schools” and “creating jobs” will get some people to tell the Emperor how grand he looks in is his new clothes – because saying otherwise would be difficult and controversial.
So, on Nov. 8, vote NO on the ESPLOST. Make sure you tell the Emperor that he is exposed.
(Editor's note: Amanda Helmstetter is the parent of two students and president of the PTA at Berkeley Lake Elementary School.)