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New county committee needed to plan growth
Jan 21, 2005 12:00 am
All we can say is it is about time.
Finally, after years of neglect a dialogue has begun in our county about planning for growth and needs in our school system.
Presently, substantive work has only been performed by the Wilson County Board of Education and county system staff. A 20-year plan has been offered mapping where and when new schools will be needed to accommodate the county's wildfire residential growth.
Now, a debate over increasing the county government's adequate facilities fee on new construction has become part of the mix.
Many issues are coming to the forefront over the complex issue of the adequate facilities fee, all of them valid.
Lebanon city officials have raised a very real concern about equity in taxation, noting the county system spends very little money on new buildings in the city.
They also note county government will essentially be doubling the burden on building in the county's cities as such impact-style fees already exist there.
County leaders backing the fee maintain growth should pay for itself, and insist this fee will capture revenue from the "new folks" moving into the county and forcing these building projects to happen.
The bad news is there are no easy answers. The good news is a debate has begun.
Perhaps the best solution that can be offered at this point is more formality in the debate process.
County government should form a joint growth committee made up of members of the school board and county commission. This body should meet to create a more direct working relationship between these two bodies that often do not interact enough on long-range goals.
In addition, city leaders from all three of the county's municipalities should be invited to offer their input whenever such a broad measure is suggested like a hike in the adequate facilities fee. This new committee would provide the marketplace of ideas needed to have these discussions.
Finally, the debate over the future of our county has begun in earnest. It is about time. Now, the challenge becomes how to channel our public servants passion – and in some cases newfound concern – into meaningful exchanges and dialogue.
Forming this new committee would go a long way to seeing this goal met.