Jeff Carver, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, delivered his State of the County address on Monday. Here are his remarks in full.
Good morning, everyone. I am honored and privileged to give my second annual State of the County address. I greatly enjoyed serving the people as chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners in 2013, and I look forward to continuing that leadership again this year. I must again thank my fellow board members for all their support to me as well as their dedicated service, care and concern for Johnston County and its citizens.
I would be remiss if I did not remember one of our longtime county commissioners who we lost last year. We all still mourn the loss of County Commissioner Wade Stewart, and we miss him greatly. His service to Johnston County and his love for its people will never be forgotten. We are thankful to have his son, Chad Stewart, serving in his father’s seat. Chad is doing a great job as a county commissioner, and Chad, I can assure you that your dad is watching, and he is very proud of you.
Johnston County experienced a good year in 2013, and it is my belief that we will continue along this path. In 2013, I asked the board to consider three priorities that included jobs, fiscal responsibility and planning for the future, and I feel we are making progress in these areas. Johnston County continues to support economic-development opportunities through the use of Economic Development Incentive Grants. In 2013, the county approved incentive grants for Novo Nordisk of Clayton for a major expansion as well as for Coca-Cola’s Clayton facility. The county also hired a full-time economic-development director to aggressively market all the county has to offer. We are partnering with our existing industries to help them with their infrastructure needs such as wastewater treatment and adequate water capacities, as their success depends on the availability of these basic utilities.
The board also recognizes the municipalities’ importance to a successful economic-development program, and we are thankful for our excellent working relationships with the towns and the ability to partner with them to further grow and enhance our county. We cannot promote the county alone and know that it takes all of us to make it work.
The Board of Commissioners has always and will continue to stress the importance of providing excellent customer service while meeting our financial obligations. The county has been able to stay within our adopted financial-policy guidelines, keeping the reserves at 15 percent or greater of the general fund expenses without having to raise taxes. The board recognizes that all citizens are still struggling and making sacrifices as the economy continues to recover, and Johnston County’s responsibility of managing the people’s assets is not something the board takes lightly. I am glad to report the county completed fiscal year 2012-2013 with a fund-balance percentage of 18 percent, and we will continue to direct staff to find ways to serve the citizens with excellent customer service in a cost-efficient manner.
I am also pleased to report that our partnerships with Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College are as strong as ever. I’d like to thank them for working with us on the latest bond referendum that successfully passed in November. Our educational needs are substantial, and it is very humbling that the citizens have enough faith and trust in us, Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College to overwhelming support the referendums in the November election.
As always, we must be conscious of the future of Johnston County and take steps to ensure our citizens are cared for in the generations to come. We will direct our staff to continue making sure we have an adequate drinking-water supply as water is our most precious resource. The board will also consider ways to meet the other needs related to human services, solid-waste disposal, recreation and open-space matters, emergency services and the overall safety and well-being of our people. We must remember that our county is constantly changing, and we can never become complacent when looking after our residents and meeting their expectations of our service.
In closing, to my fellow board members, I am once again humbled that you have bestowed your confidence in me to lead our county another year. I look forward to 2014 and all it will bring. I appreciate your service as county commissioners, and I know together we can serve our county with pride.