Name Bob Peterman
District 9
Current Occupation & Employer Retired. Former national account sales director for Hewlett-Packard Medical Products Group and Philips Healthcare.
Political Experience Home Owners Assn. President (volunteer); Williamson County Traffic Strategy Advisory Board (volunteer)
Education MBA, Dartmouth College; BS Engineering Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Civic/Religious Organizations You Belong To Franklin Clapham Group Board of Directors; Grace Chapel, Leipers Fork; Continuous volunteer service to churches, hospitals, communities since 1992.
How Long Have You Lived In Williamson Co.? Since 2004
Military Service US Navy, 1966-69
Email Address bob@bobpeterman.com
Phone Number 615-495-7347
Thank you for volunteering to serve your community, what motivated you to seek this position? The Stephens Valley development controversy in 2014 triggered my leadership role in our HOA and led to my working with Commissioners Clark and Kaestner. Sherri Clark has decided not to stand for reelection and encouraged me to run in her absence. I can and will devote full time to serving the people of Williamson County, and working in partnership with state and municipal governments to address the significant infrastructure issues we face and to protect the unique quality of life we enjoy here.
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? I have attended or watched all CC meetings for the past 16 months and have read the minutes of all CC meetings since 2014. I have met individually with Commissioners Clark, Kaestner, Lawrence, Sturgeon, and Ford. I also worked with Commissioners Little and Herbert on the WC Traffic Strategy Advisory Board. I have a well-research appreciation for the expectations of a CC and, as a retired business executive, am committed to serving on a full time basis. I will communicate with District 9 constituents via email on a regular basis as I have as President of the Temple Hills Links HOA the past 3 years.
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? As our County Mayor has often said, our rapid growth is not paying for itself. School construction cost projections are $421 million in just 5 years, and county roadway improvements another $378 million over 20 years. The county's $600 million debt is the second highest per capita in TN. Our growth-related funding issues have reached the point where only a concerted strategic effort by state, county and municipal governments can resolve them. A larger portion of costs associated with rapid growth should be paid by those directly responsible for that growth, as is commonly found in Florida, Texas, and other high growth areas. WC's Development Education Impact Fee (enacted in 2017 but held up by a group of developers' lawsuit) was a good step in the right direction.
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 have not yet thoroughly researched this option and will need to do so before staking out a position. Generally speaking, commercial entities certainly should pay their fair share. The County's practice of providing potential major employers with long-lasting financial incentives to locate here was a great idea 20-30 years ago but should not be continued in this era of such rapid growth and constrained infrastructure.
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? Current county debt is $600 million and has increased by $70 million this past year to pay for school costs that are not covered by taxes and state or federal allocations. One thing I learned while studying County Commission minutes is that our most recent bonds were issued at modest (2.75%) interest rates, but little principal will be repaid in the first few years and interest rates will rise to 5% within 5 years. As overall interest rates rise nationwide, it is not inconceivable that WC's average interest rates in a few years could be 7% on debt that has ballooned to $1 billion.
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? Simplified budgeting processes and documentation. Online check register. County Commission minutes online so that voting records will be transparent to all.
What cost containment measures can you suggest to save tax dollars? Bottoms up budgeting. Merit pay increases based on fulfillment of clearly defined annual goals. Overall compensation increases no greater than national CPI. Lobby TN Legislature to make Williamson County Schools BEP (per student) payments equal to state average given our extraordinary growth costs. Explore prospects for the sale of WC assets not generally considered as government operations.
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? Yes