The 2021 holiday season is an excellent time to put off things until 2022.
However, Guilford County government didn’t put off its effort to convince county voters that they need to approve a $1.7 billion school bond referendum that will appear on the ballot in the 2022 primary election currently set for May 17.
The county’s website now features a prominent statement promoting the need for passage of the referendum and offering an account of how the money is intended to be used and people can look for more from the county on the issue using other methods of getting the word out.
Guilford County government can’t legally use public money to campaign in favor of adoption of the school bond referendum, but it is allowed to use its resources to provide information to the public about the bond. Every time county officials see a need for a bond referendum to pass, they walk a fine line by offering information in a light that at least tacitly endorses the referendum in question.
For instance, in the new push to get voters to approve the school bond, the information on the county’s web page notes that, “To address mounting facilities needs for our aging and outdated Guilford County public schools, a $1.7 billion bond referendum as well as a proposal for a quarter-cent sales and use tax, will be included on the ballot during the March 2022 primary election …The bond will allow for the implementation of a significant portion of our master facilities plan, including the construction of new schools, the rebuilding of existing schools on their current sites, full renovations of school sites, a major investment in safety and technology upgrades for all schools, and major repairs to schools with failing roofs, heat, air conditioning, and plumbing.”
The statement also notes that an independent study funded by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education found that over half the schools in the district were “in poor or unsatisfactory condition.” It adds, “The bond will help Guilford County Schools invest in the repair and renovation of deteriorating schools to help ensure every child has access to a safe and enriching learning environment.”
The ad – or, rather, information statement – is accompanied by photos (seen above) of problem spots in school buildings around the county.
It notes that approval of the bond and expenditure of the money will also result in greater school safety, and “improved student learning advice.”
The county’s statement also expresses the hope that the bonds will be paid for by a one-quarter cent sales tax increase that will also appear on the same 2022 primary ballot in Guilford County. Of course, county voters may – and are perhaps most likely to – pass the school bond but vote down the sales tax hike. After all, voters like school children but tax increases not so much.
Unlike voters in many other counties in the state, Guilford County voters have never approved a sales tax increase.
Former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, who’s now running for the at large seat on the board, was raising alarm bells when he was a county commissioner and he’s continuing to do so now as a candidate. Branson stated that, if you spend $1.7 billion, you will need to find a way to pay that money back. He said that, when he was a county commissioner, he was provided with data noting that citizens can expect to see large property tax increases if the school bond passes – especially if the sales tax increase referendum does not.