Thompson v. Cobb County School Board

Court: Superior Court of Cobb County
Case Number: 05-1-4594-34
Decision Date: July 29, 2005
Case Type: Sales Tax
The Cobb County Superior Court enjoined the Cobb County School Board from using revenue from the Education SPLOST (E-SPLOST) for the purchase of laptops or for "any purpose other than that which is clearly set forth in E-SPLOST II's technology initiatives." In 2003, the Cobb County School Board adopted a resolution calling for a referendum on a E-SPLOST. To induce public approval of the E-SPLOST, the school board promised voters that E-SPLOST revenue would be spent in each school in Cobb County to refresh obsolete work stations, printers, servers, networks, mobile computing access and copiers. This refreshing was generally referred to as "technology initiatives." The school board printed and distributed pamphlets stating their intent that the technology initiatives would affect students and staff in all schools. After the E-SPLOST referendum passed, however, the school board decided to redirect the revenue intended for technological initiatives for all schools to fund a laptop initiative. The laptop initiative would provide laptops to post-elementary students but would not affect students in elementary school. Citing O.C.G.A. 48-8-121, the court noted that the proceeds from the E-SPLOST should be used only for the purposes specified in the resolution or ordinance calling for the tax. The policy behind this requirement is to give adequate notice to the voters. The court further stated that "in a situation where a SPLOST referendum describes its specific projects rather vaguely…, contemporaneously-published documents can be relied upon to explain or inform what was contemplated and put forth to the public regarding the SPLOST's special purposes." Accordingly, the court held that the school board was "bound" by its stated intent to use the revenue for technology initiatives in all schools.