There are a lot of unpleasant parts of the job of Guilford County commissioner.
However, on Thursday, Aug.18, the board once again had a pleasurable task. Commissioners were trying to figure out the best ways to spend the $45 million left of American Rescue Plan (ARP) money that was provided Guilford County government for economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The board started with $104 million in ARP funds. However, after previous expenditures this summer for county improvements, projects proposed by cities and towns, increased fire protection and other items, less than half the money is left.
The board met in the large third-floor conference room of the Truist Bank building in downtown Greensboro to decide – with input from Guilford County Manager Mike Halford – how the remainder of the money should be spent. Unlike previous work sessions, the board didn’t make any decisions but instead discussed a very wide number of remaining requests.
Some of those groups that have requested part of the money are Say Yes Guilford, the Greensboro Arts Council, area programs that fight homelessness and feed the hungry, and Guilford County’s mental health services – along with many others.
Halford would like to see some of that go toward county government efforts to improve county services for citizens.
The commissioners had a lot of questions about what Halford was proposing and how he had arrived at those decisions.
Though the board didn’t take any action during the August 18 work session, the commissioners have expressed a goal of getting the money out into the community as fast as possible so it can begin working for the benefit of the county’s citizens.
The board is holding very frequent work sessions to see that it happens and more board votes to spend millions are expected very soon.
As always, there’s not enough money to meet all the requests.
“Obviously, this list is more than we have left,” Halford told the board.
“It’s like Christmas – you don’t get everything you ask for,” Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said.
Conservative Republican Commissioner Justin Conrad chimed in: “With this group, you will.”
Conrad was making a humorous point about the propensity of the Democratic-majority board to spend money freely whenever a request for it is made.