One hundred and twenty days into my first year as Western District Commissioner and the Court House has not crumbled and there is no chaos to be found in the operation of the County Departments.

One hundred and twenty days into my first year as Western District Commissioner and the Court House has not crumbled and there is no chaos to be found in the operation of the County Departments.

Some observation from the inside of County Government have been more surprising than I expected.

It would amaze many just how much of County operations are regulated and limited by Federal and State statues. On a regular basis, citizens come in with questions and/or concerns that common sense would dictate a reasonable solution, however often our hands are tied by requirements from higher jurisdictions.

From the inside, we see the full impact of the cost imposed on local entities in order to meet the regulatory burdens from above.

I’m constantly reminded of a lesson learned in my youth.

There is no FREE lunch, somebody always pays for the services we demand from our government and it’s usually you and me.

What have we accomplished thus far?

By law, we are required to produce a balanced budget by Feb. 1 each year and we did so.

However, during that process, it also became clear that expenses continue to increase at a rate higher than revenue.

Part of that is brought about by an aging fleet of police vehicles, road equipment and court house repairs.

For example, a 1995 truck with 210,000 miles had the transfer case goout and a 2001 with over 190,000 miles had the transfer case and transmission go out rendering the vehicles inoperable.

These occurrences play havoc with a budget.

This is why we proposed to the voters to pass a half-cent sales tax, which occurred in the April election.

This additional source of revenue will help us maintain the current level of service to our taxpayers in the coming years.

In addition, during the budget process we allocated enough money to fund a county website.

This was made possible as I did not require health insurance since I receive Medicare and that reduction in expenses will be used to fund this project with the remainder on existing operating expenses.

County Clerk Christina Buie negotiated a nice reduction in the cost associated with the website hosting and development to further reduce that cost. More news about that will be forthcoming in the near future.

Work continues, behind-the-scenes talking with members and representatives of Consolidated Electric to encourage investment in fiber to the home, which would provide true high-speed internet and TV services at a much lower cost than satellite services.

This was brought up during their most recent Annual meeting for things they are considering.

During the Governor’s visit to Holliday Elementary he revealed efforts at the state and federal level to enhance broadband services offered in rural areas through grants.

Like rural water and electricity initiatives in the past, rural broadband is necessary infrastructure for a vibrant rural life and growing communities.