It’s striking how everyone jumps into action when $1.7 billion is on the line.

After Guilford County voters approved the large bond referendum in May to build new schools and improve existing ones, no one seemed to consider that there might be some resistance from the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) – which, among other things, oversees local government debt to make sure that counties, cities and towns don’t get in over their heads.

But the commission had a host of questions for county and school officials at a Tuesday, Oct. 4 meeting and voted to approve; however, it’s come to light now that much of that effort came behind the scenes the day before the meeting with the LGC.

On Monday, Oct. 3, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston sent a “Unity Statement” to local government officials across the county.

“I write to you today seeking your support of our schools,” Alston began his request. “Guilford County will be presenting to the LGC Tuesday for final approval of our voter approved school bonds. It is my hope that we can come together, once again, as One Guilford to show our unified support for Guilford County’s voter approved school bond package. As current Mayors and community leaders, I know you recognize the urgent and longtime need to improve our school facilities. We recognize the tremendous responsibility voters have entrusted to the county to fund the significant infrastructure needs in county schools and are committed to working together with all our partners to support this investment in our community’s children.”

They did come together: A large number of local elected leaders and community leaders signed the statement of support that Alston requested. The document Alston sought support for – and got in droves – stated that Guilford County has prepared “a fiscally responsible repayment plan that uses existing revenue sources for repayment.” One of the concerns of the LGC was that Guilford County voters, in the same May election in which they passed the giant school bond referendum, voted down a sales tax increase meant to help pay the cost of the new school debt.

“The County is already setting aside funding for the debt repayment and the three independent national rating agencies recently reaffirmed the county’s AAA GO [General Obligation] Bond rating,” the statement of support noted, “demonstrating Guilford County’s consistently responsible approach to managing the county’s financial position.”

Alston asked local leaders to respond to him directly, or through Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller, by 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, to have their name added to the unity statement that would be presented to the LGC later that day – and would ultimately help convince the commission members to approve allowing the county to issue the bonds.