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Lee voters to decide SPLOSTs

LEESBURG, Ga. -- All precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today as Lee County voters decide whether to continue special 1 percent sales taxes to fund capital projects in the county and the county's school system.

The referendum on the ballot contains two questions: Should the county continue to collect a special 1 percent tax to fund Lee County School System projects and should the county continue to collect a special 1 percent tax to fund county projects?

Lee Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said Monday if voters hold true to form, today will be a "long, slow day for our workers."

Slightly more than 600 Lee voters turned out to cast ballots on special-purpose local-option sales tax referendums in 2006 and 2007, around a 4 percent turnout each of those years.

Lee now has 17,341 registered voters.

"It's really sad that more people don't take part in these important decisions that affect everyone in the county," Johnson said. "I'm hoping we'll hit 1,000 voters ... That's not good, but at least it'll get us past that 600 number."

Johnson said 304 voters had shown up in person for early voting, and her office had received 24 paper ballots.

If voters approve the school and county SPLOST proposals, each would be in place from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2019. County officials estimate that the 1 percent tax would generate $24.9 million over the six-year period.

School System Superintendent Larry Walters has said that, if it passes, the bulk of the E-SPLOST collected during the period would be used to build a new elementary school on Robert B. Lee Drive.

The system plans to convert the building that currently houses Lee Elementary School into a second middle school to cut down on overcrowding.

The county's SPLOST wish list includes some $10 million in road, bridge and highway improvements; around $8 million in infrastructure upgrades, and more than $5 million to be used for public safety needs.