Tony Braswell, Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, delivered the annual State of the County Address at the commissioners monthly meeting held this morning in Smithfield.
Braswell began by thanking his fellow Commissioners for the opportunity to serve as Chairman for another year. “As you all know, this is also my last year serving on this Board and I want all of you to know that I will greatly miss serving as a County Commissioner. Serving the people of Johnston County as a County Commissioner has been a wonderful experience that will always be with me.”
Chairman Braswell said, “The most significant highlight of 2015 was the announcement of the Novo Nordisk expansion in Clayton. This historic announcement with an investment of approximately $1.8 billion and 700 new jobs at an average annual wage of $68,000 will be the largest bio-pharmaceutical project in the world to date. I would like to commend all our partners in Economic Development for working together to make this opportunity a reality in Johnston County. The benefits of this project will be felt in Johnston County for many years to come.”
In 2015, commissioners also publicly supported the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that is scheduled to cross the county in 5 years. “The Board’s support of the project was with the understanding that Johnston County citizens would be treated fairly and with respect during the land negotiations for the pipeline route and we will continue to voice that request,” Braswell said in his address.
Braswell highlighted meetings last year with the Johnston County Board of Education and Johnston Community College Board of Trustees to discuss capital needs. “As always, we are very supportive of Johnston County Schools and Johnston Community College and we look forward to working together to meet some of their challenges in 2016.”
Braswell said he would like to see the county consider placing a Recreation Bond Referendum on the ballot by the year 2020, or possibly sooner, to meet the expanding needs for recreation as the county’s population continues to grow.
The chairman mentioned a new community paramedic program launched in 2015, the construction of a new Princeton EMS building, and the 911 Center gaining technology to began accepting text messages for emergencies last year.
Chairman Braswell said a Space Needs Study was launched in 2015 to discuss the needs for a new Public Safety Center. The Center will be discussed further during the Board’s annual work session on March 4th.
“In closing, 2015 was a great year. Johnston County is financially sound and living within its means. We stress two numbers in our financial planning: 78 cents tax rate and a minimum 15% fund balance. That is the template for everything we do financially. For 2016, I would ask that we continue to focus on economic development, our bond ratings, support for our local education partners, and public safety. If we can do that, everything else will fall into place and Johnston County will be better than ever in 2016. I personally look forward to an exciting 2016.”