On Thursday, May 30, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners were hard at work at the most important thing they do every year – forming the county’s $600-million plus budget.
The lengthy morning meeting in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro ran way over its scheduled noon end time. At the meeting, the board discussed a wide variety of issues including the tax rate, school funding, departmental needs and potential ways to save taxpayer dollars.
Much of the meeting was a parade of department heads asking for new staff positions or additional money to meet various needs.
For instance, Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega spoke of a need for new animal care staff to provide the animals in the shelter with more hands-on time each day, and Guilford County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright asked for more staff due to increases in 911 calls.
Albright, who spoke on his department’s needs toward the end of the long meeting, quoted the words of former Guilford County Emergency Services Director Charlie Porter.
“If you will just go ahead and fund my request, this will be very short,” Albright told the board.
He expressed the same hope of a lot of department heads who got the chance too make their plea to the Board of Commissioners at the May 30 work session.
Ortega had pictures of cute puppies to help make his case for more money and the commissioners joked that Albright was at a disadvantage because he did not.
“I have heart attack victims,” Albright shot back, drawing a laugh from the board and the two dozen or so county staff in the room.
Despite the jocularity, it was mostly serious business as the board tried to find ways to avoid a property tax increase while simultaneously meeting new demands.
The Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt a final county budget in mid-June. Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing recently proposed the budget that will be used largely to form the basis of the final 2019-2020 budget adopted by the Board of Commissioners.
That proposed budget totals $627,418,000 and calls for keeping the county’s property tax rate flat at 73.05 cents per $100 of assessed property value. It pays out $313 million for education and education debt and also calls for increasing the expenditures on the county’s human services operations by $12 million – a 19 percent increase.
The commissioners now plan to hold another work session as well as a public hearing on the matter before adopting the final 2019-2020 county budget.