There was a good deal of surprise when the new Guilford County budget came out this week with 50 percent raises for the county commissioners.
However, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said after the budget was adopted that the raises for himself and fellow commissioners were perfectly justified and have been a long time coming.
The move wasn’t discussed publicly by the board before it was approved as part of the new 2021-2022 county budget. The increase in commissioner salaries added $10,000 a year, which means that, starting in July, commissioners will each make $31,200 annually, with the chair and vice chair making a slightly larger amount for occupying those leadership positions.
Alston said after the Thursday, June 17 meeting at which the board unanimously approved the new county budget, that he was aware there would be some questions from the public, so he was happy to explain the reasoning. The chairman said, for one thing, the Guilford County commissioners hadn’t seen a raise in 17 years.
The last raise for the board was a 40 percent increase.
Alston said that, due to that great length of time since the last increase, the pay for Guilford County commissioners had fallen completely out of line with other county commissioners in the state.
Comparable counties in the state, he said, pay their commissioners more than the $21,200 Guilford County commissioners have been getting, and many other counties have additional perks such as in-state travel mileage reimbursement that Guilford County commissioners don’t get.
Guilford County commissioners only get a few perks, such as one communication device – a phone or a tablet computer – to use for county business.
Even commissioners from some smaller counties were making more than the Guilford County commissioners before the raise this week. Cumberland County commissioners make nearly $23,000 and get another $7,200 in “allowances.” Also, the chair of that board makes an additional $8,400.
Forsyth County commissioners make just under $25,000 a year, while Durham County commissioners make just over $25,000 each year.