Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Oconee County Education Local Option Sales Tax Revenue Exceeds $1 Million For Two Months In A Row

***Oconee County Schools Has Collected $7.8 Million***

Oconee County Schools took in more than $1 million in revenue from the Educational Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) in September, Dan Smith, Chief Financial Officer for Oconee County Schools, told the Board of Education at it meeting last week.

The September monthly receipt was the second in a row in which revenue exceeded the $1 million mark.

The September revenue was for taxes collected in August, and Oconee County Schools in the first eight months of the year has taken in $7.8 million toward the projected $37.9 million in revenue from the 1 percent sales tax.

Collection began in January and will continue through the five-year authorization approved by voter in March of 2021.

Over the last 14 months, Smith told the Board, ELOST revenues are averaging 17.3 percent more than was collected in that same month a year earlier.

Smith’s seven financial reports to the Board took up only two minutes of the 24-minute-long Board of Education meeting, which was dominated, as is usually the case, by recognitions by the Board and a feature presentation by one of the system’s schools.

No Board member commented on any of Smith’s reports, and no citizen signed up to use the Public Communication opportunity provided by the Board at its regular meeting.

ELOST Report

ELOST receipts have exceeded $900,000 every month since October of last year, but they exceeded $1 million only in January ($1,216,628) before the August ($1,001,453) and September ($1,016,736) receipts, Smith reported.

Screen Shot Smith Before Board 10/16/2023

That January 2023 receipt was for December 2022 collections–the holiday season and the first full month of COSTO's operation in the county.

According to Smith’s reports, Oconee County Schools already has spent $3.6 million from the current ELOST, called ELOST VI, on Colham Ferry Elementary School classroom additions and $3.1 million on High School Elementary School classroom additions.

Oconee County Schools has spent $38.7 million in ELOST moneys on the new Dove Creek Middle School, which opened this year. The estimated final amount of ELOST spending on the middle school is $39.6 million.

Smith reported that Oconee County Schools has spent $2.4 million of the estimated $4.5 million costs for classroom additions at Malcom Bridge Elementary School, $4.1 million of the budgeted $14.5 million for the new Instructional Support Center, and $0.9 million of the projected $6.0 million in systemwide technology improvements.

At present, $9.4 million is available in the ELOST VI account because the Board of Education sold $43 million in bonds, received $4.9 million in state funding, generated $0.9 million in interest revenue, and transferred $6.7 million from the General Fund.

Smith also reported that the final bond payment for ELOST V was recorded on Sept. 30, and that $7.7 million remains available for spending from that account as of that date.

Net bond proceeds had been $23.5 million, and final bond payments were $25.9 million.

General Fund

Smith’s reports to the Board showed that the General Fund operating account as of Sept. 30 stood at $36.6 million.

That balance had been $38.5 million on Aug. 31 and $43.1 million on July 31.

Just more than 44 percent of the $106.1 million in revenue shown in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget comes from ad valorem taxes, and Smith’s September Year-To-Date Budget report showed that only $49,655 of that had been received in the first three months of the budget.

Property taxes are due on Nov. 15, so those revenues will increase as the year progresses.

By contrast, the state funding through the Quality Basic Education formula, which makes up a little more than 47 percent of the Fiscal Year 2024 revenue, already has produced $12.5 million.

Other Meeting Items

The Board recognized the 2023-2024 Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee members: Viveka Mehrotra, Nathan Dowis, Akshat Biswal, Zaniya Griffin, Michael Ricks, Allison Waltman, Deeya Mepani, Bochen Shen, Victoria Leopold, Kennedy Wiedower, Caden Sorrells, and Campbell Patterson.

The students were juniors and seniors at North Oconee High School and Oconee County High School.

It also recognized the October Pursuit of Excellence Award Winner, Raymond Wilson, in Transportation.

It also recognized student 4-H winners.

Colham Ferry Elementary School Principal Katherine Brown, Assistant Principal Mike Stanton, and Teacher Julie Schirmer gave the Points of Pride presentation to the Board.


The video below is on the Oconee County Schools YouTube page

The screen shot above is from that video.

Smith began his presentation at 20:32 in the video.

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