In July and December of each year, it’s questionable whether the Guilford County commissioners do enough to warrant the roughly $1,700 a month they get paid for being a commissioner – however, at budget time in June, the board does put in a good deal of work. And on Monday, June 10, the Board of Commissioners is holding a massive work session – one that might be the last before a budget is adopted.
On Friday, June 7, Guilford County released the agenda for that meeting, which has 16 topics and provides clear evidence of just how much the board has to discuss before adopting a 2019-2020 county budget.
The first item on the agenda for that 2 p.m. meeting in the first-floor Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, for instance, is one that the commissioners could conceivably spend days on. The agenda item reads simply, “Guilford County Schools” – but the issue of school funding is anything but simple.
Commissioner Skip Alston has called for a one-cent property tax increase to provide an additional $5 million to the schools in the new budget, while the Republican commissioners who control the board said, in the wake of Alston’s call for a tax increase, that the idea was dead the moment it left his mouth.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips said this week that Alston’s idea of a one-cent tax increase wasn’t something taxpayers needed to worry about.
While there will be no county tax increase this year, the amount of school funding in the budget is always fluid until the final votes are cast, so it’s possible that, at the Monday budget work session or in private discussions later, the board might find more money for the schools than the county manager has suggested.
School funding is just the first item on the 16-item list. The board is also scheduled to discuss funding for Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC), the new positions proposed in the county manager’s budget recommendation and the raises, if any, that Guilford County employees should get in the coming fiscal year. The work session also includes a review of county fees, a discussion of the county’s insurance policies, funding for economic development organizations and a review of the county’s economic incentive policy.
And why stop there? The board is also slated to get updates from staff and discuss ABC tax funds and the county’s new animal shelter project.
A proper discussion of all of those matters could take the board well into November; however, at the end of the agenda for the June 10 work session, some optimistic county staffer has included, “Other Business.”
When this jam-packed work session finished late Monday, it’s highly unlikely the commissioners will be eager to take on new items.
Commissioner Carolyn Coleman summed up the thoughts of many who had seen the agenda. She said it seemed clear the board would need yet another work session.