Harris County, Ga. (WRBL)— Early voting has started for Harris County’s Municipal General Election. Every five years the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, ESPLOST, appears on the ballot for residents to renew.
“Anyone who shops in Harris County, spends any money in Harris County, that one penny is paid in the sales tax,” Dr. Justin Finney, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Technology said.
While one percent may not seem like much, the ESPLOST has funded several multi-million-dollar projects.
“I really want people to understand this is not a new tax. This has been in place for over 30 years and its funded things from Creekside School to the new middle school to the new indoor practice facility. 50 new busses in the five years, our technology, computers, flooring, carpet. Just about any type of capital project you can think of, ESPLOST dollars have helped Harris County School District.”
In addition, renovations to the Science and Technology Center and the System Operations and Transportation Facility.
All the pressure does not fall on residents of Harris County with the ESPLOST. Most of school funding comes from local property taxes and a state Quality Basic Education Allotment (QBE) based on enrollment.
“ESPLOST helps stabilize the property taxes by taking some of the burden of funding off of the property owner and spreading it to everyone who shops in Harris County,” Dr. Finney shared.
This means anyone who makes any kind of purchase, dines in, or pumps gas within the county contributes to the ESPLOST, including the 750,000 annual visitors to Callaway Gardens.
If the ESPLOST is renewed, several projects will be in the works. This includes the construction of a new elementary school, renovation of the Harris County High School auditorium, expansion of the science and technology center, and more facility renovations and modifications. More information on the ESPLOST can be found, here.
Those who wish to vote early in Harris County can head to 757 Carver Circle.
“We started the 16th, we go all the way through November 3rd,” Sherrail Jarrett, Harris County Elections Supervisor said. “Everybody in the county would early vote here, we only have the one location. So, you come in and show your I.D., we’ll pull you up, give you credit for voting, put you at a machine and you vote, scan it and you’re gone. It takes no time now.”
There are two early voting Saturdays, Oct. 21 and 28, hours for all 17 days go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Election Day is Nov. 7, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.