Guilford County government was going to have a tight budget even before the coronavirus hit.
However, even with the pandemic-created economic picture now being painted, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips pledged that there will be no property tax increase under his watch when the county adopts its fiscal 2020-2021 budget in June.
Phillips, who was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2012, has never voted for a property tax increase. In that same year, the voters of Guilford County changed the Board of Commissioners from a longtime Democratic-majority board, one that raised taxes almost every year, to a Republican-led board, and, ever since that change, the Board of Commissioners has never once voted to increase taxes.
Guilford County now has several multimillion-dollar projects underway and the county has been hit this spring with surprise losses in sales tax revenue, property tax revenue and investment revenue – however, like Phillips, the other Republicans on the board seem committed to keeping the majority’s reputation on tax increases pure.
“No, no, we’re not having any tax increase,” Phillips said adamantly when asked the question point blank.
Phillips, who’s stepping down from his seat on the board in December, is only one vote of nine; however, each year the budget is called “the chairman’s budget” because the chairman has such a great say in the final product.
The four other Republican commissioners on the board have also never voted for a tax increase – all five Republicans have stuck together each June at budget time.
For years, County Manager Marty Lawing and former Budget Director Mike Halford have subtly – and, at times, not so subtly – suggested to the commissioners that Guilford County needs a property tax increase, however, they haven’t gotten that wish in the past and it doesn’t look like it will happen in the coming 2020-2021 budget that’s now just around the corner.