Some things to be proud of…

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

As we enter into a new year, I am excited for the possibilities that are ahead and the position that we are in as a county. 

However, I think it is worth looking back at some of the accomplishments we have achieved over the past couple of years as a county. 

In the past year, with considerable input and guidance from Commissioner [Shane] Bradley, we were able to establish a fire and rescue advisory committee to analyze data and help the board of commissioners make educated decisions when it comes to budgeting for our public safety departments. This is something that will save the county money and make it much safer in the long run.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

We all remember the revaluation and how some of the sharp increases and decreases in values put some of our citizens in a really hard financial situation. It was extremely frustrating to not be able to provide more immediately relief, but I am proud of the steps the board took to offer the relief we could and to prevent a similar situation in the future. 

Our efforts advocating for taxpayers in Raleigh resulted in more agriculture exemptions that could be utilized to offer relief. In addition, we also changed the county policy to do a revaluation every four years instead of eight. This should help mitigate the unexpected jumps in value and give citizens a better idea of what values will be.

Also, despite what some expected, we were able to host one of the largest sporting events in the country without any major instances that would threaten public safety or economic stability. We expect to see a boost in sales tax revenue that will greatly help the budget and allow us to reinvest that money back into the county. 

I was blown away by the new Polk County Law Enforcement Facility when I toured it at the grand opening. This was a vision by Sheriff Donald Hill, our county manager and past commissioners that I was honored to be able to have a role in. 

We have received compliments statewide about the quality of the facility and the way the project was conducted. I think this will be an asset for Polk County for years to come and something that we can all be proud of. 

Going into my first term, I promised that our board was going to take a real look at economic development that worked for Polk County and followed our 2020 vision plan. 

I am proud to report that, as of 2018, our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. We are currently at around 3.5 percent unemployment in Polk County, which is down from the around 9.2 percent rate in January 2012. This is thanks in part to a number of small businesses that have made Polk County home.

Maybe the most impressive thing Polk County has been able to accomplish in recent years is our school system moving from being a consistent top 10 in the state to being the No. 1 school system in the state of North Carolina. This is thanks to our superintendent, Aaron Greene; our school board; our administrators and teachers; and also our students and parents. All of those roles combined have created a culture that provides the best education in the state.  

None of the accomplishments above would be possible without an amazing county staff who is always looking out for the best interest of the citizens and their tax dollars. It would also not be possible without the input and feedback of our citizens, who, whether we agree or disagree with, are always vital in any decision-making process because of the insight and individual expertise they bring to the table. 

I thank everyone who has made this journey possible, and I am very excited to see what the future of our county holds. 

As always, feel free to reach out anytime. It is a pleasure to serve you all.

Jake Johnson,

Polk County Commissioner