According to the US Census Bureau, that's Hartselle's latest population figure. It's up from 12,019 from the 2000 Census and up from 12,299 last year.
Hartselle is growing and, like any changing entity, it's experiencing growing pains.
People are attracted to Hartselle for several reasons. The most widely touted is its school system, which is seen as one of the better ones in North Alabama. Combine that with good quality of life, low crime rate and an affordable standard of living, and you will continue to see Hartselle grow.
And therein lies the heart of the problem. Hartselle's growth has all been residential. Residential growth, even if it's in new houses and developments, barely covers the cost of city services and goods required. Because Alabama's property tax is so low and the city receives so little of the funds it generates, Hartselle must rely on sales tax to cover its costs. And while residential growth is booming, commercial growth is not. There are simply not enough businesses to generate the type of tax revenues the city needs to grow.
Last week, the city took a major step forward by passing the resolution that allows the city to pass some types of bonds. These bonds will be used to pay for economic development, with the sales tax generated by the growth pledged to paying down the debt. Once the debt is paid, the city sees nothing by benefit from the new development. It gives the city a huge bargaining chip when talking to developers.
Where will Hartselle be in the next 20 years? We don't know the answer to that question. We can safely predict, however, that residential growth will continue and therefore we must take the chances it will take to attract the necessary commercial growth.