After hearing complaints from several residents, Commissioner Steve Brown sought to explain the importance of ramping up the county’s mowing schedule at Thursday’s budget workshop.
A plan to increase mowing services for Right-of-Way on state routes and local roads from three to four times to five to six times annually (supplementing the state’s obligation) drew the ire of some residents who took their complaints to Brown. He looked to ease their concerns, along with those he hadn’t talked to, by equating the importance of tidy roads to economic development opportunities.
“It’s an aesthetic thing that makes us feel better about how our county looks, but it is very much an economic development issue too,” he said. “Facebook came in when they were looking for that location for that hi-tech center, and they spent a million dollars evaluating our site in the center of the county. We’ve got other very high-end clients that the state is bringing down here as we speak, and they are looking at sites.”
He said that the first impression may be the only one some prospective businesses get, so it’s important that the corridors in and out of the county are as sharp as possible.
“A lot of those big things, it’s a first impression. They drive through one time, and you’ve got your one shot to make your impression,” he said. “The aesthetics of the county and how we look, it plays a lot into these decisions.”
Brown said the cities are maintaining their roads well, so the county has to do its share, too.
“The municipalities have done a good job keeping the county looking good. We need to make sure we’re holding up our end of the bargain,” he said, pointing to picking up trash, keeping grass cut, and keeping neighborhood entrances looking good as simple fixes.
Commissioner Charles Rousseau agreed that it is a key piece of the puzzle in attracting new business.
“Tax incentives are worthless if you don’t do those kinds of things,” he said. “It won’t mean a thing. We’ll just be spending money and giving tax breaks to people that will never come.”