A big part of Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider’s leadership revolves around sound management of the county’s money. Fiscal Court hasn’t raised taxes in Schneider’s term as the judge-executive—7-plus years—and yet the county has a budget surplus of more than $27 million.
Schneider mentioned the continuance of that fiscal responsibility as a top goal in the next year. Part of managing the budget well in the current economy, according to Schneider, is staying ahead of what the national economy is going to do this year, perhaps a recession.
“I worry about that,” he said.
He said some days he’s positive there won’t be a downturn, the next he’s not so sure.
“It may not happen,” he said. “I get a lot of mixed signals.”
A big piece of his concern is for the industries located in Henderson County, many with direct links to automakers, which are typically hit harder in a recession.
If there is a national downturn, he wants to be prepared to “make adjustments that help,” he said.
He said some of the options he’s considering for Fiscal Court consideration if assistance were necessary include offering a tax moratorium and holding the line on any tax increases.
Schneider believes the $27 million budget surplus would allow the county to weather the storm, but still, the thought of the effects of a recession on local industry concern him.
Navigating renewable energy in the county
The onset of renewable energy in the county has brought dilemmas. The biggest, for Schneider and Fiscal Court, is “striking the balance” between the property rights of people who choose to lease their land out to companies building fields of solar panels and the neighbors who don’t want them in their backyard.
Schneider said the best tool for that is to create ordinances that protect people and their property—with specific setbacks, screening, easement requirements and bonding requirements for mitigation once the life of the project is complete—but also ordinances that “don’t get in the way of progress.”
Right now, two large solar panel installments are in the works on the south side of the county.
But solar panels are one thing—low to the ground with opportunities to be hidden to some degree. Windmills are another. Schneider said 700-foot-tall windmills are hard to miss.
Currently, a wind power feasibility study, determining if there’s enough wind in the county to generate power, is occurring on reclaimed strip mine land on the eastern side of the county.
To that end, ordinances pertaining to wind turbines will need to be established.
Continued economic development and continued government efficiency
Another of his priorities is to continue to work in partnership with Henderson Economic Development to bring new industry.
One likely spot for new industry to locate in the county is at the 4-Star Industrial site, where a 1 million-square foot pad is ready to be built on.
Schneider said a “lot of people are checking in” on the pad, and that includes new businesses and industries that already are here wanting to expand.
A final priority is to ensure that county government employees are supported and that the services it provides continues as they should.