News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012
GROVETOWN, Ga. -- A packed gym sat Tuesday night to find out the state of Columbia County.
A panel of government leaders say the report card is good with its highest mark on growth.
"We grew by 735 students this year," said Columbia County Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle.
That was just one example of how much the county has grown, and Commission Chairman Ron Cross says growth means increase in revenues.
"We're strong financially," Cross said. "We have good sales tax collections."
Cross says property tax collections are up, too, which Nagle says is good for education.
"[Our] old bond debt will be paid out in March. The school system is financially in good shape. We just need more money from the state when it comes to instructional dollars," Nagle said.
Growth doesn't come hassle-free, though, according to leaders. They say the biggest challenge involved with it is traffic.
"You sit in a line in Atlanta for 45 minutes or an hour and nobody says much. You sit in line for 10 minutes in Columbia County and nobody likes it," Cross said.
That's where he says the newly-approved TSPLOST comes into play. He says the county did what it could in terms of fixing roads with its own money, but it can't afford everything on its own.
"There's a limit on what we could do. We could not complete Riverwatch Parkway. This allows us to do that," Cross said of TSPLOST.
Cross admitted he didn't personally like the tax, but there were no better options, and he says this one helps leaders continue to try and meet their ultimate goal.
"Making Columbia County as good as possible and keeping it that way," he said.