Henry County Commission Chairman Tommy Smith said when he went to work with the county as an executive assistant in 2003, the economy and the growth rate in Henry were vastly different.
“I was asked to give some advice as to how to slow the growth rate down,” he said. “It was like trying to put out a four-alarm fire with a water gun.”
And now, in 2013, the county is facing yet another year in an economic slump with officials seeking solutions to a dwindling tax base while still trying to provide a high level of service to residents.
Smith said he would like to focus on small businesses in bolstering the county’s tax base, and pointed to the recent groundbreaking for the new campus of Southern Crescent Technical College in the county as a good business venture.
“I’m going to work hand in hand with the chamber, the school and the community to make that college the best it can be,” he said.
To attract business, Smith said infrastructure improvements should be a county priority, namely when allocating funds for SPLOST 4, which will come to vote in November.
“I would advocate probably 90 percent for roads,” he said.
Not only is clearing traffic congestion an issue, but capital improvement projects such as new buildings aren’t feasible. Any development that would require staffing and maintenance would need continuous money allocated in the general fund, and that’s not a possibility, he said.
Smith also said he would like to see raises for county employees, who haven’t seen one in five years.
“We are losing senior police officers,” he said. “If we don’t fix the police department, none of this is going to matter.”