If you were born a quarter of a century ago, then you were still just a gleam in your father’s eye when Skip Alston was already a fixture on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
With the exception of a six year hiatus, Alston has served on the board since the end of the last century and been chairman of the board more times than you can count on the fingers of one hand.
At a county commissioner’s meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21, Alston stated an interesting conclusion about the current nine-member 2023 Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
“I’ve been a member of this board for 26 years – I’ve been on a lot of boards – but this is the best board that I have ever worked with,” he told his fellow commissioners.
Alston said that commissioners on this particular board – Republican and Democrats alike – had put aside politics and district bias and had simply been making big, brash decisions that move Guilford County forward as a whole.
He said that was one reason why this current board was the best one he’d ever known.
“It’s because we have really done something,” he said. “And we have put aside all the politics and we are thinking about the people. We don’t talk just about people and things that will help the commissioners’ individual districts, but we think about ‘One Guilford,’ what benefits the entire county.”
Alston is certainly right about the current board making big moves.
Since the Democrats took control of the board in late 2020 – the board has parted ways with former County Manager Marty Lawing and hired former Budget director Mike Halford as the new manager.
With Halford’s help, the commissioners have overseen many multimillion-dollar capital projects, handed out huge benefit packages and generous pay increases to every county employee, and approved and helped pass a $1.7 billion school bond referendum – one of the largest school bond referendums in the country.
The Board of Commissioners has also been on a new county government job creation binge including moves that established and then grew a county public relations department and dramatically expanded Guilford County’s MWBE Department, just to name two.
Alston did not, in his effusive speech, point out that the county is doing all this by taking on a enormous amount of debt and by requiring property owners to endure what equated to a 14-cent tax increase – the largest increase in the modern history of the county, and likely the largest ever – when the commissioners did not lower the tax rate to a “revenue neutral” rate to offset for dramatic property increases reflected in the 2022 revaluation.
At the September 21 meeting, Alston also had high praise for the current county staff.
“I really appreciate what our staff has done “he said.
He added that the county’s citizens played their part as well by voting to approve the school bond referendum.