Guilford County commissioners each make about $20,000 a year for holding that job, and, on Thursday, March 4, they were earning their pay by working all day at the annual planning retreat. 

The group also planned to spend the Friday, March 5 doing the same.

The two-day mega-meeting got underway right on schedule at 9 a.m. on Thursday at Forest Oaks Country Club with a discussion with representatives from the NC Association of County Commissioners. 

The jam-packed retreat agenda calls for the board to wrap up things Friday afternoon with a closed session to consult with Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne and also to consider potential business location or expansion in the county.  That probably means that the county has the prospect of creating some new jobs if the board is willing to give some tax breaks to the unknown business.

The meeting was COVID-19 ready, with masking – and with plexiglass dividers between the socially distanced seats.  Top county staff, security officers and reporters were spread around the large conference room – which has had a radically different feel than it does when Forest Oaks is hosting a giant golf tournament. 

Parking is also a lot easier.

The retreat is meant to be a time for the board to go into great depth on key issues facing the county, and the agenda includes a central discussion meant to arrive at the board’s three top priorities for the coming year.  It also includes presentations on county finances and tax revenues – that is, how to fund those priorities.

Guilford County government has a lot of projects underway and limited funds to pay for them, so one of the key purposes of the meeting was to help the board arrive at what should – and should not – be funded in 2021.  Because that was one focus of the two days, it’s helpful that the brand new county manager – Mike Halford – served for years as Guilford County’s budget director.