PERRY -- Houston County voters overwhelmingly approved a 1-cent sales tax initiative Tuesday that will benefit schools.
The measure passed with ease, garnering support from about 74 percent of voters.
"I often say we're lucky to live in a community that supports education," Superintendent Mark Scott said. "We're a growing community."
Funds from the tax will go toward projects at schools across the county, including intrusion alarms, fire safety panels and continued upgrades to heating and air systems, among other plans.
Veterans High School will also require an expansion, and officials also expect a new elementary school will be needed in the eastern portion of the county.
"This is an important funding source to continue improvements in our schools," Scott said.
A reported 27,115 voters went to the polls Tuesday, a number buoyed by the presidential primary races. Still, that was well ahead of the expected turnout, according to Scott and other officials.
Jimmy Autry, chairman of the Committee for Excellence in Education that has been supporting education sales tax efforts since they began in 1997, said he expected big totals. His committee's job, he said, was to make sure that voters knew that the presidential primary vote wasn't the only one on the ballot.
"I didn't want anyone to be surprised," Autry said.
He and Scott made presentations at organizations throughout the county to spread the word about the ESPLOST. Autry said he was glad to be a part of that work after the results he's seen in past ESPLOSTs, which have funded about 1.6 million square feet of new classroom space in Houston County.
He added that the most important part of that was the work done at the district office.
"They determine needs, not wants," he said. "Everybody's willing to get on board with that."
For that reason, board member Hoke Morrow said he wasn't surprised with the approval margin. More than 20,000 voters supported the ESPLOST.
"Logically, it makes more sense to keep supporting what we've already shown," he said.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter@MTJTimm.