With advance voting completed, all that remains for the Cobb Education SPLOST IV referendum is Tuesday's final voting day.
Voters will decide whether to continue to tax themselves one penny on the dollar for school construction and maintenance projects.
The proposed collection period, which would begin Jan. 1, 2014 and conclude on Dec. 31, 2018, would generate $717.8 million for the Cobb County School District and $55.4 million for Marietta Public Schools.
Supporters of the referendum say extending the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) is the most affordable method to pay for needed capital projects.
Opponents who held a rally on the Marietta Square last weekend believe the project list includes too many unnecessary projects and would pinch taxpayers during lean economic times.
A pro-SPLOST group, United 4 Kids, paid for commercials that ran on several Atlanta television outlets this week.
The vote is expected to be close, given Cobb's recent voting history on SPLOST. In 2011, Cobb voters approved an extension of the Cobb government SPLOST by fewer than 100 votes. Last summer, they resoundingly voted against an Atlanta regional transportation SPLOST that was easily defeated throughout the 10-county area.
An education SPLOST has proven to be a more popular issue for voters. Since the first Cobb "E-SPLOST" in 1998, voters have passed it two more times with solid majorities.
At the anti-tax rally former Cobb schools Facilities and Technology Committee chairwoman Kim Euston, who has been outspoken in her opposition to the referendum, called SPLOST "the crack cocaine of the school district."
But The Marietta Daily Journal, with a fiscally conservative editorial page, endorsed the referendum on Friday, acknowledging the "SPLOST fatigue" cited by opponents but claiming that the sales tax is the best option.
The MDJ wrote that SPLOST isn't a tax increase that opponents have claimed, but "a continuation of an existing tax" that Cobb taxpayers have approved three times before that "has paid untold dividends for the two local systems."
SPLOST proponents and Cobb school board members have said that if SPLOST fails, bond issues for the needed projects would end up costing taxpayers more money. They also say SPLOST has enabled the Cobb district to become debt-free.
Cobb school parent JoEllen Smith recently penned an MDJ op-ed piece on the latter issue, and on Friday PolitiFact Georgia concluded her claims to be true.
Around $15 million of the SPLOST IV money collected for Marietta City Schools would be used to retire existing bond debt. The district has a special web page that outlines its SPLOST IV projects.
For details on the Cobb SPLOST IV project list, please see the attached PDF.
SPLOST foes had been touting legislation by State Rep. John Carson, an East Cobb Republican, that would permit a "fractional" SPLOST collection of less than a penny.
But the MDJ reported Friday that the bill, which was supported by the Cobb Board of Commissioners and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, was not approved in the House before the March 7 legislative crossover date.
The legislation would not apply to creating a fractional education SPLOST, which requires a state constitutional amendment.