Another year of successes and new challenges for Williamson County.
County Mayor Rogers Anderson hit the highlights of the last year and challenges ahead in his 2017 State of the County address Wednesday at the Franklin Marriott.
The first thing he mentioned was schools.
“Perhaps you saw that the schools put in a funding request for $500 million early in our budget process,” he said. He talked about the three ways they can raise money, through sales taxes, property taxes and fees.
“It is the hardest thing to do, as an elected official, to ask to increase the personal property taxes of an individual,” he said.
He said funding schools may be a difficult challenge, but creative ways like the current campaign he is on asking municipalities to give some of a possible sales tax increase to building schools is a way to achieve their goals. So far three municipalities have agreed. It will be up to the people though: there will be a referendum in the fall.
“It will be up to the taxpayers,” he said.
Mayor Anderson also talked about job growth.
The county had the highest job growth rate, he said, of any county in the country with 6.7 percent, well above the 1.5 percent national average.
He also talked about growth in general: nearly 4,000 building permits were issued countywide last year. But, he said, that growth has been under control. A large majority of the county is still rural.
“Schools might be the most talked about reason people live here but there are other reasons, like law enforcement,” Anderson said. “Even though funding is tightened up every year.”
The opening of the new Academy Park just south of downtown Franklin was also in mentioned in the address. Academy Park provides a recreation center and theater. The project was years in the making.
He lauded the 96 percent adoption rate of the Williamson County Animal Center and his desire to build a new shelter.
Anderson wrapped up his speech by saying that what makes Williamson County great and why it will continue to succeed are its most important asset: its people.