Cartersville School Board members at their work session Thursday learned how much the 1-percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for schools brought in for the district in the past year. In its third year, which ended in July, the penny tax brought in more than $4.97 million for the school system, while July's tax collections alone totaled $465,836.22, one of the highest monthly totals in the district's SPLOST history.
Richard Dyke, financial director for Cartersville City Schools, said the district is averaging SPLOST collections of an estimated $396,000 a month -- well above the $325,000 per month estimate officials used in their fiscal plans.
"We've been happy from the very beginning, because we budgeted very, very conservatively," Dyke said. "We used conservative numbers when we came up with the $325,000, so over $400,000, that's wonderful."
Cartersville's SPLOST revenues have been strong despite an economy that in recent months has seen significant unemployment numbers and other less-than-stellar indicators. Dyke said the revenues seemingly have not been affected by the economy, but did not have a definitive answer as to why.
"You've got to eat, put gas in your car. I don't really know what it is locally that we're drawing so much from -- I have a no idea," he said. "But [the economy] just hasn't affected our sales taxes -- they've been really good."
The current SPLOST -- the third such sales tax that has benefited both the Cartersville and Bartow County school districts -- will end its five-year run in June 2012. County voters in July gave their approval for another five-year education SPLOST, which will immediately take effect when the current SPLOST ends.
The strong SPLOST revenues will aid the district as it pursues several projects. Superintendent Howard Hinesley following Thursday's meeting said one of those top priorities is the construction of a fine arts facility at Cartersville Middle School.
"One of the things we're going to be working hard to do in the not too distant future is start working on the scope and specifications and getting an architect to build a facility at the middle school. That's going to be our first priority," Hinesley said.
Another project high on the list is improvement of Cartersville High's band practice field. Hinesley said officials are in the process of getting estimates for the project, which will see the use of donated dirt that was cleared off the property that will become the site of the county's new EMS/fire/EMA headquarters. Once the dirt is placed on the practice field's location, it will be leveled, sodded and maintained so the band will have an improved area on which to practice by next July.
Though the field project had been on the to-do list for the next SPLOST, Hinesley said the strong collections have led to the item being moved to this SPLOST. "Because we've been fortunate, we feel like we can go ahead and move that -- we have a 'catch-all' in this five-year SPLOST which allows us to do that," he said.
The school board during its monthly business session Monday will have only a few items to consider. Among them will be two overnight and out-of-state field trips, a rental request application for an April event and approval of a bid for cafeteria serving lines for Cartersville Middle.
The board will meet at 6 p.m. in the central office boardroom.