Name Beth Lothers
District 5
Current Occupation & Employer County Commissioner & writer
Political Experience Nolensville Mayor/Town Administrator, Nolensville Alderman, citizen activist, committee member & creator (Nolensville Design Review Committee, Town Events, Trees & Trails, Economic Dev.)
Education Political Science, B.S, ASU
Civic/Religious Organizations You Belong To Nolensville Historic Society, Triune Community Club, Community Bible Study Leader
How Long Have You Lived In Williamson Co.? 25 years
Military Service Husband - Army Officer
Email Address bethlothers@comcast.net
Phone Number 615-776-4182
Thank you for volunteering to serve your community, what motivated you to seek this position? I have a love of public service from being an intern for then Congressman McCain in college, an aide to the Vice-mayor of Phoenix and being elected the Mayor of Nolensville. As Mayor, I led the completion of the Rocky Fork road realignment, Town Hall relocation then building of new Town Hall, sewer installation through federal & state funding in the historic district, creation of commercial architectural design standards and installation of vintage signals and signage, built community by creating July 4th & Vereran’s Day celebrations, and as an alderman wrote over 11 grants with the Town receiving over $1.5 million (3 Safe Routes to School grants, 2 MPO Trail grants, and tourism grants...including recently complete 1.1 mile small town connections project with trailhead parking lot and bridge in the historic district. I love the interface of working in groups and with all levels of government for the public good. As a county commissioner I want to do good work that protects property values, enhances quality of life, supports public safety and educates well the decision makers of the future.
On your first day in office, what will be the top item on your agenda? Something Else
Have you attended County Commission meetings or work sessions, researched the duties and responsibilities of a County Commissioner, and talked to other elected officials about what your role and time commitments would be as a Commissioner? Incumbents: How do you communicate with your constituents and when are you available to meet? Yes. I worked closely with county leadership and departments while serving on Nolensville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and since being nominated and confirmed to complete County Commissioner Green’s term of office, I meet weekly with constituents, local business owners and even local government officials on intergovernmental projects. For example, besides serving on the Triune Citizens Advisory Committee, I meet with local residents and groups such as the Triune Riding Club and Triune Community Club. I met with the Nolensville merchants last week and hosted the WCCVB CEO & President in promoting Nolensville. I recently attended the Williamson County Chamber event updating Nolensville projects and attended the Brentwood Rotary Club in maintaining my relationships and presence in that portion of my district. This past Monday , I attended County Government Day in Nashville to receive more information on proposed state legislation impacting local and county communities. I would like to look at doing perhaps a blog or email blast to communicate with my district at large as well as being available to meet one on one.
The County Commission is responsible for approving the budget and funding our schools, roads, and infrastructure with property taxes collected. On the other hand, cities fuel growth by approving zoning requests and building permits for commercial and residential construction. What would you do to encourage a shared fiscal responsibility with local municipalities? Additionally, in your mind, who should pay for growth and how? Most people agree that growth should pay for itself and making that a practical reality means understanding how development works. As a citizen activist I worked to control residential growth by informing myself and eventually others on density bonuses that existed the Nolensville Zoning Ordinance at the time. We wrote an updated community survey and educational summary sheet. As a result, we were successful in influencing local leaders to remove those density bonuses and got density back to 1.8 units per acre. Then as Mayor I oversaw the collection of Adequate Facilities Taxes and Road Impact Fees from new development to invest back into the local infrastructure. We have to use every legal tool in our toolkit to control growth. This is not anti-growth but a sensitivity to quality of life. New residents need to be welcomed and encouraged to give back to their community the same way that thankfully I was. But it is not pro-growth that is irresponsible and unplanned.
Our current property taxes if left unchecked are estimated to double - perhaps triple - in just a few years. The tax burden is on current residents many of whom are looking forward to retirement, living on fixed incomes, or raising families. Would you support legislation to foster sharing the cost of growth with the business sector as many high growth States have done? Would you support researching alternative funding sources such as making commercial or business rental leases subject to sales tax? What other cost containment measures would you recommend? I will always be open to listen to and research alternative funding sources. From my experience, each proposal has to be evaluated objectively and forecasted correctly so that unintended consequences are avoided. Cost containment is about good management and oversight. I had to financially oversee a municipality during one of the most economically challenging downturns with a small staff. We had about a hundred volunteers serving on committees, bringing their professional and educational backgrounds forward in service to their community. That was one of my favorite seasons in government. As a commissioner I will be watching closely how resources are allocated.
In 2016-2017, $44,000,000.00 or 21% of our property tax dollars were allocated to pay the interest on our debt. While interest rates are currently low, if we continue to fund growth by borrowing, we take on significant fiscal risk as bonds interest rates rise. What funding ideas to you have other than purchasing 20 year bonds? Perhaps as I have shared before, I am open to alternative ideas for funding. Some ideas I have heard of regarding the selling of properties or privatization have been shortsighted. I support the quality of life Williamson Medical, Parks and Recreation and schools provide to us.
In an effort to promote accountability and transparency local municipalities in other states have put their checkbook register on line for citizens to see how their tax dollars are spent. What recommendations would you make to increase transparency and accountability to the electorate? Through open records and on line budgets, my experience is that transparency exists. There should always be an open door policy if citizens have any questions about expenditures. Also, I keep my Public Health Committee discussion notes for example, so I may accurately explain why I voted the way I did on specific requests.
What cost containment measures can you suggest to save tax dollars? In serving at the county level, I will provide attention to detail in supporting fiscal responsibility. Multi purpose use of buildings or repurposing of existing buildings is an important cost containment mindset. For example, the former Nolensville Elementary School was leased to Nolensville as a temporary Town Hall and has now been repurposed has a highly successful recreation center for the community.
Schools funding including interest payments on money borrowed to build new schools is close to 80% of the total County budget. Commissioners vote either to accept or reject the budget as presented, they have no control over how the money is spent. If the budget is rejected, they must negotiate with the Director of Public schools until they reach a resolution. Would you support a resolution to change current law to allow line item veto power to the County Commission when approving the School Budget? n/a