JOHNSTON COUNTY -- A new year brings along a new set of goals for the Johnston County Board of Commissioners.
Chairman Jeffrey Carver presented members with three major priorities for 2013 during his Jan. 7 State of the County address. He challenged the group to find opportunities for local job creation, maintain financial responsibility and plan for future growth.
“A lot of our residents continue to drive into Wake and Durham counties for work,” said Carver, a Clayton resident who has served on the commission since 2003. “I wish that all those cars didn’t have to do that. I would love to see Johnston County folks not have to travel 30-40 minutes each way.”
He noted the county has supported business growth in the past with the use of no-risk Economic Development Incentive grants. In 2012, they approved grants for three companies. Carver said he would like the board to find ways to encourage existing businesses to expand and hire more employees.
Staying fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s money is also high on the priority list. The county tax rate currently stands at 78 cents per $100, something Carver is eager to maintain. He said the county completed fiscal year 2011-12 with a fund balance of 16 percent, a figure that falls in line with their financial policy of keeping reserves of at least 15 percent of the county’s general fund expenses.
“We’re still going to stay within our means,” Carver explained. “We are very proud and happy about that.”
Looking toward the future, the board looks forward to working with the Johnston County Board of Education during the annual budget process and with their capital planning program. In a fast growing town such as Clayton, Carver said adding new schools and increasing recreation programs is important for maintaining the town’s active, family lifestyle.
“The school system has always had a big impact on us,” he said. “We are continuing to work with the board to help them with their needs. It’s one of our long-term objectives.”
Most of the current board members have been working together solving county issues for almost a decade. Ted Godwin, the newest member, was sworn in last December. Unlike surrounding counties that regularly make headlines for conflict between members, he says their personal differences are a non-issue.
“We still fuss and fight but at the end of the day we’re a family,” Carver said. “People elect us to figure out what’s the best for the county and move forward.”