The end of the year is almost here and it has been an interesting one. Oil was at $140 in July and is around $40 today. We had two hurricanes coming at us and didn't get an inch of rain out of both combined. We had a historic national election, we have a new president, a new district attorney, and a new state representative. I wish them all the best. Locally we been blessed with new businesses and opportunities. We did a few things this year in Commissioners Court:
We began using the new hotel/motel tax to promote tourism activities in Burleson County. These taxes are collected on hotel/motel/bed and breakfast rentals. They CAN ONLY be used to promote tourism and the lodging industry. We have purchased tourist directional signage and banners to promote events and help people find Burleson County businesses. We have also through the Burleson County Chamber of Commerce purchased state-wide advertising and have new promotional pamphlets distributed state-wide as well. Tourism is important to our economy and we look forward to using these funds in the future to further promote that industry. (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT)
We, as part of our economic development plan signed a tax phase-in agreement with Zodiac Enterprises bringing new jobs to Burleson County. (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT)
We implemented a subdivision exemption policy that allows a party to sell off one piece of their property without going through the costly and time consuming subdivision process. (REDUCING GOVERNMENT)
We published and distributed the first Burleson County Information Guide in an effort to help you know what services we offer and how to access those services. (IMPROVING COMMUNICATION)
We purchased a new 15 passenger wheelchair accessible van to help people get to medical appointments, other household necessity trips, and will be used in our new HEALTHY LIVING program geared toward seniors administered by the Burleson County Health Resource Center. You will hear more about that program in 2009. (IMPROVING SERVICES)
We participated in the 100 year birthday of 4-H. The Burleson County Extension office is a tremendous asset to our citizens. It would take an entire update to list all the activities and achievements of this office. (IMPROVING SERVICES)
We built and purchased new Justice Centers in Snook and Somerville. Not only will this improve access to the courts but these buildings are to be used as polling places and public meeting spaces as well. (IMPROVING SERVICES)
We replaced all the antiquated phone systems in the courthouse and sheriffʼs department. The new digital systems insure higher quality telecommunications. (IMPROVING COMMUNICATION)
We, through inter-local agreement assisted the Brazos Valley Affordable Housing Corp. in starting a new subdivision that will provide over 40 new residences in the next few years. (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT)
We implemented a new wellness program for Burleson County employees through which we are able to hold down health insurance cost while encouraging healthier lifestyles and reducing our insurance claims. (IMPROVING SERVICES)
We have stepped up our efforts to clean up the trash in Burleson County through our special tire collection, computer collection, and general trash clean-up programs. We have also had dozens of abandoned and junk vehicles removed as well. (IMPROVING SERVICES)
We removed the registration fees for septic system providers. (REDUCING GOVERNMENT)
We received the Lake Somerville Economic Development Report for the LCRA and BRA and have begun implementing the plan to spur economic growth throughout the region. (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT)
These are just a few of the highlights from 2008. One of the things we are most proud of is that we DID NOT raise the tax rate and yet are delivering more services.
Next year should prove to be quite the challenge. With a worldwide economic downturn, tight credit, low oil prices, a drought, and a depressed agriculture market, one might easily get depressed. I prefer to look at next year as a challenge for us to rise above. It will take all of us working together to keep Burleson County a growing and vibrant place to live. Thanks for all you do to make this the place of which we can all be proud
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