It has been an honor to serve as your commissioner and I am excited to announce my intent to run for Re-Election in 2020 as Newton County Commissioner for District 3.
For the first time in many years, fiscal discipline has restored Newton County to financial stability. We have stabilized our budget with a healthy fund balance, and I believe we now need to begin to explore the possibility of a millage reduction while providing current and future services to our citizens.
Foremost, we have worked hard to establish and cultivate a culture of trust and plan for our future in a more transparent, collaborative, accountable, and meaningful way. We have also tackled and moved forward from some challenging issues of the past in a way that protects resources and communities for years to come.
Some of the tools that have been implemented to better foster an open and transparent governing body include the Financial Transparency module on our website to view where tax dollars are being spent; Newton County 101 - an educational series program that was created for our citizens to learn more about county departments and services and how they work; regular countywide Town Hall Meetings seeking more feedback and engagement.
Planning for our future needs are better identified now beginning with a Needs Assessment from our citizens with that information being taken into consideration and adopted into strategies and prioritized into our Strategic Plan that will carry us through 2022. As a result, our FY20 budgetary process was streamlined and held to a higher level of accountability. Expenditures on items that were identified by the community are now tied to a strategic action item.
In 2018 we opened the new Juvenile Community Resource Center, Agricultural Center, and completed the Judicial Center Expansion.The new Westside Precinct and Tax Commissioner’s Office (District 3) was opened in 2019. And in 2020 we have already broken ground on the Senior Services Expansion, and new Animal Services Building. This spring, we will begin construction on Fire Station #8 (District 3) for better protection. It will reduce the ISO rating for residents of North Newton County and those citizens should see a reduction in insurance premiums.
We have become more efficient in resurfacing our roads and I look forward to beginning the process of the widening Brown Bridge, Crowell and Salem Roads to relieve traffic congestion. We will also be focused on completing the intersection improvement at Exit 88 and Crowell Road.
We need to continue to position Newton County for quality Economic Development. It is essential that we address future infrastructure needs and revisit our local codes to better protect our citizens.
We are attracting many national and global companies. The development of the Facebook Data Center at Stanton Springs is planned in four phases with the first to be completed this year, initially providing 100 jobs. LIDL US, a grocery retail company, has chosen Newton County to build a regional distribution center and has plans of adding 270 higher paying advanced manufacturing jobs.
The county has also been awarded two mental health grants. The first grant fosters work between the Sheriff, Judges, Board of Commissioners, and Viewpoint Health to safely reduce those individuals with mental illness in our jails and criminal justice system. The second grant Newton County was recently awarded is a County Justice Peer Learning Network collaboration to reduce the number of mentally ill in our local jails and explore racial and ethnic disparities affecting arrests, incarcerations and treatment options. We were the only county in the southeast to be awarded this grant and I am proud to serve as a dedicated member of the Mental Health Task Force along with the Sheriff’s department. It is my hope moving forward to continue working together on the Mental Health task force with the ultimate goal of establishing a Behavioral Crisis Center to safely divert those with mental illness from the criminal justice system.
We are moving forward to a brighter and more prosperous future and getting much
accomplished. It is my hope and intent to continue this positive momentum, forward
together, for a better Newton.