Keeping up with burgeoning traffic and the need for schools to handle an expanding population are becoming routine challenges amid the continuing growth of the county, according to Mayor Rogers Anderson.
The current population of 211,672 is expected in numerous projections to double by 2040.
In the past year, the county has come up with a long-term traffic projects plan. This includes more than 100 different individual projects, with 19 completed by 2020 and 81 completed by 2030. The approximately $150-million plan covers four main corridors – Arno Road, Sneed Road, Clovercroft Road and Lynwood Way.
Additionally, a comprehensive traffic strategy study has started to look at the big picture for traffic in the county and to provide suggestions. It’s results will be presented sometime in early 2017.
On the schools side, after more than a year of committee meetings, public discussion and expert recommendation, the county passed an Education Impact Fee in November that will levy a charge on each new house built in the county starting in March.
According Anderson, the commission deemed it necessary to pay for nearly $500 million in new school construction needed in the next decade for Williamson County Schools. It will accommodate the influx of new students as the population continues to grow.
“I think that most people understand and know we are trying to figure out a way that new growth,” Anderson said. “New folks moving in will share the burden, and that it is not put on the existing residents.”
Other big county news in the last year included enticing Schneider Electric to agree to move here, providing a $1.2 million tax incentive and bring up to 1,200 high-paying jobs with it. Schneider will anchor Two Franklin Park’s tower on 6700 Tower Circle in Franklin.
But Anderson said one of the biggest accomplishments in the past 12 months involved opening the Public Safety Center, as a command center in the case of natural disasters and public safety emergencies.
“That was a five- or six-year process of having some 45 to 50 different disciplines come in,” Anderson said. “It was a result of the 2010 floods that we had that we needed to make some improvement in the way we handled natural disasters. Part of that was a new building in a new location that was more secure and good for our community in the event that we had another event like that.”
Earlier in December, the new 911 dispatch center also opened, with director Steve Martini combining Franklin and the county’s emergency communications.
Another big move this year by the county was simply passing a $515 million budget. It included a tax rate of $2.15 that passed 13-6. The rate is lower than 2015’s rate of $2.31, but the average property owner will pay about 15 percent more in taxes, because of higher appraised property values that came out of the 2016 reassessment.
One of the biggest and most contested residential developments passed the county’s Planning Commission in May. The $1 billion development near the Natchez Trace Parkway on an 850-acre area called Stephens Valley will include 791 homes, an 85- to 100-room boutique hotel, room for a restaurant and office and retail space. Development will take place over two decades, adding houses every year.
The first phase will likely begin construction in the spring.