What's Next For Lexington County?
Lexington County is in the top ten of fastest growing communities in South Carolina. Data shows the number of single-family residence permits has grown by average of 264 per year for the past five years.
Joe Mergo, Lexington County Administrator and a graduate of the University of South Carolina, has had the opportunity of seeing the county grow over many years both as a resident as well as an employee.
Being named one of the fastest growing communities with challenges is certainly better than the challenges of one that is dying.
Trusting the government with our money is extremely important. Going forward we need to take into consideration where the budget can or cannot be cut before voting on a penny tax. Approved appropriations of the general fund for this year total $145 billion. Law enforcement, fire service, ems, public works and 911 total 75 percent of the total budget as well as 1 percent includes a retirement increase. At the current 3 percent rate of tax income they estimate $2.5 million which would be no where near the amount needed to solve our infrastructure problem. In order to keep Lexington business-friendly it is important to keep taxes low. With the vote for the penny tax, Joe has assured us that no projects other than infrastructure and roads will go on the ballot.
Lexington is also proud to share their partnerships with companies, meeting monthly, have never been better. Lexington Medical Center has paid $2 million for camera systems including $125,000 stop-light interceptors for the Fire & EMS in order to Lexington with expedience. In partnering with the US Census, they have allowed the use of their property in order to educate the public on the importance of the data. For example, this data would help leaders to know how many people we need send to Washington to represent us as well as which rural communities are needing more service to their area. The Midlands Business Leadership Group remains to be a great asset in linking Richland and Lexington town and county government leaders with businesses in order to focus on mutually beneficial projects.
A beautification project with the Highway 302 corridor from the airport to Columbia will provide an inviting ambiance for those coming to the area. The direct route via 302 at this point is so lacking when the NCAA traveled into town last time, they took a longer alternate route to the arena. With 1 million people traveling into Columbia Airport each year we must realize what impression we are giving to visitors.
A AAA-bond rating was awarded to Lexington County for the first time in history. The County has proven to have strong financial fundamentals, is financially predictable and has a strong operating environment. This will save taxpayers by cutting the bond interest down by close to $1 million.
New businesses, employees, a fire training center, colors of white, yellow, and blue for emergency vehicles, fire station design including separate living quarters, animal services surgical suite, a runway for the airport, a cemetery and GM allowing the county to do their own warranty work, and are all huge improvements we can be proud of. Next on the list would be to add a Behavioral Health specialist to their onsite health and wellness program in order to improve our servicemen’s and women’s quality of life as well as prevent suicide.
Although no place is perfect Lexington is a place where the county is striving to do their best and show how thankful they are for the dollars that they are putting back into the community to make this a place you can feel proud to work and live in!