Name Robert Verell
District 5
Current Occupation & Employer Database Administrator at RDX
Political Experience Ballenger Farms HOA (volunteer)
Education Bachelors (MTSU)
Civic/Religious Organizations You Belong To FUMC,PASS
How Long Have You Lived In Williamson Co.? 13 years
Military Service n/a
Email Address robert.verell@gmail.com
Phone Number 615-447-6753
Thank you for volunteering to serve your community, what motivated you to seek this position? I come from a family of public service volunteers. My grandfather was mayor of the small town I grew up in Mississippi. My father served in the United States Marine Corps for over 20 years and served in Vietnam. I feel it is my turn to give something back to my community.
On your first day in office, what will be the top item on your agenda? Taxes
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 commission meetings and looked into what would be needed to be a good commissioner; I've reached out to not only commissioners here in Williamson County but other counties in Tennessee as well. If elected I'm planning on having a monthly newsletter as well as a monthly meeting where constituents can talk to me face to face.
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? The people who move here to take part in our great communities should be funding additional infrastructure costs, not existing residents. I would also want to encourage and work with municipalities to form more separate school districts, similar to Shelby County, to where municipalities would be more responsible for education and growth in their respective areas.
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? We should indeed be working with the business community to help with our growing costs in education and infrastructure more versus giving them deals to move here. Businesses want to be here, we don't need to provide incentives that drive artificial growth which gets us in heavy debt as we are now. I am not in favor of expanding taxation as that would come as a cost to business and would increase the cost of living here. I would like to see more detailed budgets and architectural designs from the school board prior to approval of funding as I believe we need to make schools more functional and secure vs aesthetically pleasing.
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? From a debt management perspective I'd like to see us focus on paying our debt down more aggressively through reallocation of funds or refinancing, due to the risk mentioned by interest rate increases. If our debt service was half of what it currently is, we'd have millions of dollars to build new infrastructure every year and that's before education impact fees.
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? If elected I'll have monthly meetings to discuss issues and send a newsletter pertaining to the goings on for the county. I've also thought about setting up a blog to discuss meetings and give my thoughts on various topics. This helps people stay informed and get involved in aspects of local government. Having a dashboard that shows where people's money is going is the right thing to do and shows integrity. It'd be nice to inform the public of how much funding is remaining in each bucket of the budget as well.
What cost containment measures can you suggest to save tax dollars?
  • Building schools for functionality and security rather than aestheics.
  • Give incentives for new private school construction (each private or home schooled child funds 2 public school children)
  • Promote private, gated communities for new construction so the county isn't responsible for roads and infrastructure in them.
  • Stop giving tax breaks and deals to specific companies that creates unfairness in the marketplace. This also makes sure businesses are paying for public infrastructure costs.
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