By Pam Horne via Williamson County Herald
One of the annual summer traditions in Williamson County is a July gathering of business leaders to hear the area’s top elected official give a mid-year report.
Tuesday Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, now in his fourth term, relayed positive achievements, but two emerging issues — transportation and leadership retention — were clearly on his mind.
Transportation will be, Anderson told members of Williamson Inc., the next big juggernaut for all community leaders — business leaders, non-profits, city officials and residents.
Anderson, whose leadership has been marked by his ability to juggle the county’s fiscal side while responding to ever increasing public service needs in schools, health care, emergency and recreation, may find his ultimate legacy being that of a intergovernmental problem solver.
Keeping taxes down, while encouraging collaboration with high-growth cities like Franklin, has become his calling card.
He made a point Tuesday to recognize accomplishments that portray his affinity for intergovernmental collaboration on projects like new fire halls and EMS stations.
But the complex issue of congestion mitigation, he explains, will take lots of patience and many actors willing to listen to hard facts about a weak state and federal funding system that is directly impacting local motorists trying to manage congestion.
But this was not how his presentation began; it was the message he saved for the end.
Anderson is not easily frustrated by complex problems.
Even his daughter Laura Howard shared her father’s unusual resume as an East Tennessee native, a Vietnam veteran, whose business and people skills propelled him into a successful insurance career and ultimately local politics here as a Grassland county commissioner in the 1980s.
Howard, a nurse practitioner, who serves the community where she was raised, has worked alongside respected physicians Sam Bastian, M.D., and father-son duo Jim McGinley, M.D. and Daniel McGinley, M.D.
She offered the audience a personal glimpse into the county’s longest serving CEO.
“He has shown us the importance of faith and the importance of loving well because we were loved first,” Howard said of his family disposition.
But the order of the day was business, and Anderson wasted little time getting down to it citing statistics any community would envy.
With a local economy that boasts 182 new business start-ups a month, Anderson said the pace of growth is not letting up.
“When you think about all the property (in the state) and the property assessments, we’re fourth in the state. It’s almost $9 billion,” he said.
That statistic means there is a new order: Davidson, Shelby, Knox and Williamson with Hamilton County dropping down for the first time.
The affluence of Williamson comes with a 4.1 jobless rate, the lowest in the state, and Anderson announced that employment has actually increased 25 percent over the past five years.
But unresolved matters remain — one he touched on briefly, as he called out Dr. Mike Looney.
“I know that the county north of here wants you,” he said with a pause, adding “we want you too, Doc.” It is his folksy, East Tennessee demeanor that seems to always draw the Middle Tennessee applause.
Since the county commission’s recent passage of a $306 million budget with no property tax increase, Anderson has begun focusing on new projects, new parks, new partnerships and a new problem that he says must be fixed by everyone willing to take a seat at the table.
The Williamson County Moves Summit will be held in September, and the event will be open to all interested residents, Anderson said,
”What can we do to make this county a better place to travel and to live.”
And to aid him with the effort, he announced that Doug Hood, the man he recruited from South Florida in the early 1990s to launch a countywide recreation strategy, will be his lead advisor and facilitator with community stakeholders.
Hood, who retired late last year, has agreed to work with his old boss part-time as a consultant.