“Our problems are man-made therefore they may be solved by man.” – John F. Kennedy
FACT: Since 2010, our county budget has grown by 87% with a population growth of just over 37% and an overall debt increase of more than 68%. Since 2012, the average debt burden for a family of 4 increased from approximately 13k to now over 17k.
Responsible Stewardship of resources is a key responsibility of government. Ensuring full transparency and proper use of those resources on behalf of the taxpayer should be the top priority. Government should limit spending to focus on the essential services needed to provide for the safety and security of the citizens and to protect the quality of life expected by Williamson County citizens. We must carefully review our expenditures and income, cut wasteful spending, and develop a plan to pay down our debt so as not to place undue burden on our children and grandchildren.
FACT: Our school budget makes up almost 70% of our overall county budget. Since 2012, we have increased our school budget by more than 78% while our enrollment has grown by only just over 28%.
High quality education is a key reason many families, including mine, came to Williamson County. Having had three children go through Williamson County Schools, I have seen many changes occur over the past 15 years, some for the better and some not. We must ensure the county is fully supporting the schools and directing a majority of our funding directly to the classroom, where real success can be achieved. Our schools are not only about the buildings and the facilities, but also the ability to attract and retain the most qualified teachers who are fully empowered to prepare our students for college, trade school or whatever career path they may choose.
FACT: Total funds budgeted for Fire and Prevention have decreased by more than 14%. This is mainly due to fire protection being covered by city budgets; however, Arrington Fire and Rescue has only seen a 1.29% increase in funding from the county while it covers one of the fastest growing districts in the county.
Fully funded law enforcement, fire protection and emergency services must be a top priority to support the growth of Williamson County and especially in District 5. We need to ensure our first responders have all the support needed when seconds matter most. We must work closely with all of our Hometown Heroes to ensure they are well staffed, fully equipped and empowered to handle whatever situation they may face.
FACT: While property tax rates went down (currently $1.88), based on higher assessed values, most people saw their overall property taxes increase, in some cases up to 200% to 300%. Property zoning in some areas has changed frequently in the past few years, causing concern among property owners with regards to the current value of their land.
Property rights with regards to planning and zoning changes as a way to slow growth in our area has been a major point of debate for many across the county. Creating a vision for sustainable infrastructure that supports our growing population while protecting the quality of life most of us came here for is one of our biggest challenges. However, as tough as it is to find creative, common-sense solutions to this problem, individual property rights have to be considered.
FACT: Williamson County spent approximately $1,000,000 bringing in Dominion Machines and has recently replaced these with ES&S. Voting machines have repeatedly been shown to be vulnerable to attacks.
The right to vote is one of the most precious rights we have as American citizens. It must be cherished and protected. The Board of Commissioners must work with our Election Commission and give them the support they need to ensure our elections are secure. Continuous improvement of our election process to both minimize fraud and maintain the highest level of security is imperative to maintain a government that is a true representation of the voter.
© 2022 Mary Smith for County Commissioner
Paid for by Mary Smith for County Commissioner – Sharon Hollen, Treasurer