The recommended budget that Guilford County Manager Mike Halford brought to the Board of Commissioners last week made some people very happy and some people very sad. However, the game isn’t over until it’s over and this 2024-2025 budget game is far from over.

On Wednesday, May 22, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said there will be changes to Halford’s budget before a true and final budget is adopted in June.

Alston said the manager’s recommendation is just that, a recommendation, and he added that the ultimate decision falls to the board.

“The manager makes his recommendation to the county commissioners, but the final budget is the one decided by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners,” Alston said.

Alston added that there were some things in the manager’s budget that he liked and some that he didn’t, but he added that he did not wish to discuss what those were at this time.

He said there will definitely be changes this year.

Alston said he and the other commissioners on the board were filtering through the dense and long document to see what needed to be added – and what might be included in the recommendation that shouldn’t be in the final budget.

He did say one county concern that might need more attention is funding for the fight against homelessness.

He said the board may want to take some money out of the county’s savings account – the fund balance – in certain very specific instances such as to fund community organizations or for an important cause.

One of the things government budget officials warn boards against is using a local government’s savings account for costs that recur every year.

“If it is a one-time item, we might use the fund balance,” Alston said, though he acknowledged that that money is kept mostly for emergencies and liquidity.

The standard advice from the state for years has been for local governments to keep at least 8 percent of the county’s budget in savings. Currently, around 15 percent of Guilford County’s budget is being kept in savings.

One change the commissioners made last year before adopting a final budget was adding more money for Guilford County Schools.  Alston didn’t say specifically whether the amount of money for the school system would be altered, but he did say it would be a mistake to assume that just because the board did it last year it would do the same this year as well.