Let’s face it, not much work gets done between mid-December and New Year’s Day. That’s as true for local governments as it is for other sectors of society – however, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson is clearly already thinking about 2019. He said this week that Guilford County government is going to have a busy year ahead, and added that the year will bring a lot of financial challenges.
“We look forward to big things,” he said.
Branson said the giant elephant in the room in 2019 will be finding a way to pay for costly projects that the county has on tap: Right now, the four projects in various stages of planning or talks are a new Emergency Services vehicle maintenance facility ($20 million), a new animal shelter ($15 million) a new mental health building ($15 million) and a new law enforcement building (perhaps $20 million or more).
If Democrats had managed to take control of the Board of Commissioners in the November election – something they came very close to doing – the board wouldn’t have this problem next year because the Democratic majority would have just raised taxes and paid for everything. Problem solved.
However, the Republican majority board has shown year after year that it will not raise taxes – but, still, things have to be paid for.
Branson said that aligning those two goals – getting the critical projects done without a tax increase – is one of the major goals of 2019.
He said there are other goals as well – one in particular.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said.
Branson said he’d like to bring more jobs to Guilford County without a heavy reliance on incentives, but he added that he and the rest of the board clearly will play the incentives game “if the numbers fit.”
As chairman of the board for the second year in a row, Branson will also serve for another year on the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) and he said he wants to help that alliance be successful.
The chairman said he’s very optimistic about the prospects for the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and the aviation megasite underway at Piedmont Triad International Airport. He said he hopes 2019 is the year that those two sites really start to drive major economic growth in the area.
According to Branson, he’s going to work “diligently” in many other areas as well to move Guilford County forward.
What’s Branson’s biggest challenge in 2019? It may very well be trying to win over Commissioner Carolyn Coleman – who was the only one of nine commissioners who voted against Branson when the board selected its chairman on Monday, Dec. 3. The two constantly bicker at meetings.
Branson said he’s going to do his “best to get along with her better in the upcoming year.”
Interestingly, Coleman’s no vote meant the second time that Branson won the chairmanship without getting all nine votes. In 2017, Coleman did vote for Branson – but Branson, for some reason that’s still not quite clear, abstained from the vote and therefore didn’t give himself his own nod of approval.
Branson did vote for himself for chairman this time around, so perhaps his previous body of work as chairman in 2018 convinced himself to vote for himself.