One of the nice things about being a Guilford County commissioner is that you sit on the board that has the ultimate say in how the county is run and that picks how the county uses hundreds of millions of dollars each year in the annual budget.

Another perk of being a commissioner is that, throughout the year, you have an opportunity to take several nice trips at taxpayer expense.

One such event – the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference – is taking place in Washington, DC, in a few weeks, and, if the past is any indication, a large number of Guilford County’s nine commissioners will make the trip.

Several Guilford County commissioners hold positions on various NACo boards and committees. This year, county officials from North Carolina are aiming to deliver one of the largest state delegations ever to the NACo Legislative Conference.

The 2024 conference, which will run from Saturday, Feb. 10 to Tuesday, Feb. 13, brings together roughly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials to learn about federal policy issues that affect counties across the country. It also gives county officials a chance to petition federal officials to favor legislation and make other moves that benefit county governments.

Conference materials state that the attendees get “the opportunity to engage in second-to-none policy sessions, meet the members of the 118th Congress and interact with federal agency officials,” and also state that, “This is a one-of-a-kind advocacy opportunity to strengthen our intergovernmental partnerships for years to come.”

Some years, the president or vice president will drop by for a visit with the gaggle of county leaders from across America.

At these events, there are always a lot of nice dinners, parties and fun side trips. However the commissioners who frequently attend say that the conferences aren’t junkets, but are instead serious, important and beneficial events for county residents. That, they say, is because the commissioners learn what is working in other counties, get to make their case to federal officials, and get a chance to discover things such as special grants and benefits that are available to counties.

The first full day of the conference will include an orientation session for first-time attendees, policy steering committee meetings, and affiliate and state association meetings – followed by receptions in the evening.

In addition to meetings and meals with federal legislators, the Legislative  Conference will include seminars, regional caucus meetings, collective sessions of the entire group, a NACo Board of Directors meeting and conference policy summits where county leaders will establish their collective priorities for the year.