Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell took office Jan. 1. In the time since, he said he has prioritized improved communication between the county and constituents as well as preparation for future growth.
Gravell asked the county’s Commissioners Court during a Feb. 19 meeting to nominate members of a nine-person county bond committee to look into the possibility of a future bond election and prioritize roads and parks projects in the county. As the committee’s work wraps up, Gravell reflects on his first six months in office and what direction growth will take the county.
In your first six months in office, what is something you set out to accomplish and have?
It is a major priority for me to communicate well with our community and to communicate well with our employees. I thought at least the communicating well with our employees would be a two-, three- [or]four-year process, [but]I think we’ve accomplished great strides [already].
Williamson County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Texas. What is your role in preparing for that growth?
We must have paths and corridors that connect people. And with that, I asked our court to create a bond committee not just to look at the possibility of future road bonds but to look at the possibilities of prioritizing our future paths, our future roads [and our]future parks. We empowered a committee of nine to go do this and come back and tell us the truth. We’re looking for what the future holds. I’m going to ask the citizens, “Do you want this bond package or not? Do you want these roads or this park or not?” And we’ll respect that [decision].
Williamson County is also a diverse county with urban cities and small agricultural towns. How does the county balance resources and needs for residents with different priorities?
Williamson County is amazing because it’s diverse. As a county judge, I might be dealing with something like Apple that is putting in a $1 billion complex and has some of the most innovative technology in the world in one piece of the county, and then in another piece of the county I get a phone call because the city of Granger has a water leak. We will never forget in Williamson County that it’s our farmers and ranchers who are the backbone of what we do.
How does the county maintain affordability for its residents with growing property values and infrastructure needs?
It’s hard. The problem is that we’re such an attractive community, and we have businesses from around the world that want to come here. And when they come here, they’ve got employees who need a place to live, eat [and]shop. If we were less attractive, we would be a whole lot more affordable. If we were less successful, we would be a whole lot more affordable. The problem is the affordability issue is really just a result of our success.