Smith County’s Share Is $101.9 million

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee needs at least $43.4 billion of public infrastructure improvements to be in some stage of development during the five-year period of July 2015 through June 2020. Public infrastructure improvements for Smith County total $101.9 million, a decrease of $11.0 million (9.8%) since last year’s report, according to a new report released by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).

The current report, which is based on information provided by state and local officials, shows an increase of $29.7 billion in the entire state’s infrastructure needs since the first inventory was published in 1998 and an increase of $3 billion (7.4%) from the August 2016 report.

Statewide, the top three areas of need are

  •   Transportation at $24.4 billion,
  •   Post-secondary education at $4.8 billion, and
  •   Water and wastewater at $4.3 billion.

    Officials report Smith County’s top three areas of need as

  •   Transportation at $87.1 million,
  •   Water and wastewater at $6.1 million, and
  •   New public schools & additions at $5.6 million.

    The county’s total estimated cost for new or improved infrastructure is $5,284 per capita, compared with $6,578 per capita statewide. Smith County’s estimated transportation needs per capita amount to $4,512, higher than the statewide estimate of $3,702 per capita. Smith County reported water and wastewater infrastructure needs at $314 per capita, lower than the statewide average of $647 per capita. As for new public schools & additions infrastructure improvements, Smith County reported $288 per capita, which is lower than the statewide average of $369 per capita.

    Less than half of the money needed to meet Tennessee’s public infrastructure needs has been identified. Of the $33.9 billion in needs for which the availability of funding was reported statewide, officials are confident that $12.5 billion (37%) of that amount will be available. About $18.4 million (19.6%) of the $94.1 million total funding needed to meet Smith County’s infrastructure needs has been identified.

Among Tennessee’s 95 counties, Smith County ranked

  •   65th in total population (19,295),
  •   53rd in population change between 2000 and 2015 (1,479),
  •   43rd in population growth rate since 2000 (8.3%),
  •   52nd in population density at 61 people per square mile,
  •   70th in total estimated infrastructure needs ($101.9 million),
  •   59th in total estimated infrastructure needs per capita ($5,284), and
  •   43rd in total public school needs per student ($2,491).

    This report is the only source of statewide information on the condition of public school buildings and the cost to put them all in good or better condition. According to local school officials, 91.9% of local public schools are now in good or excellent condition. However, they estimate the cost to put the remaining 8.1% in good or better condition and keep the others in good or excellent condition at $2.0 billion, which is a $235 million increase from the cost reported in the previous inventory.

    Officials in Smith County did not rate any of their school buildings as less than good overall. This compares favorably with the statewide figure of 8.1% of school buildings that are in less than good condition. Local officials estimate the cost to upgrade or maintain existing schools to good or better condition at $7.0 million for the Smith County school system. The cost to bring all areas of all Tennessee public school buildings up to good condition is $2,314 per student statewide compared with $647 per student in Smith County.

    This years’ report is organized differently than in previous years. A single statewide overview chapter provides information by type of infrastructure, the condition and needs of our public school facilities, the availability of funding to meet reported needs, and a comparison of county-area needs. Following that section, one-page summaries for each county-area lists the estimated cost for all types of infrastructure by stage of development. The summaries also highlight the top three types of infrastructure improvements needed in each county based on total estimated cost and provide comparisons of the infrastructure needed at public school systems to student enrollment. Further detailed county-area information about each type of infrastructure in the inventory, along with relevant legislation, inventory forms, and a glossary of terms, can be found in the appendixes to the report.

    TACIR Mission

    TACIR’s mission is to serve as a forum for the discussion and resolution of intergovernmental problems, provide high quality research support to state and local government officials in order to improve the overall quality of government in Tennessee, and to improve the effectiveness of the intergovernmental system to better serve the citizens of Tennessee.