The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is preparing to fill a $7.7 million hole in the construction of a new mental health campus in Greensboro.
Late last year and much of this year, the commissioners were optimistic that the State of North Carolina would include over $7 million in state money to help fund the construction, however, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget which included that allocation and the legislature was never able to override that veto. The result is that the state doesn’t have a 2019-2021 budget and is spending based on the old budget which doesn’t include special allocations like the $7 million Guilford County was promised. It has now come time for the county to find those funds for the transformative major mental health initiative that’s moving forward at a fast pace.
The county is expected to debate the matter at length on Thursday, Sept. 17 at an afternoon work session – and perhaps later at the board’s regular meeting that night. It’s rare for an item to be on two commissioner meeting agendas on the same day, but this item is.
This week, Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson said the county is being stretched financially due to a number of ongoing large capital projects combined with revenue shortages caused by the pandemic and the failure of the state to come through on these funds, so it may therefore be necessary to move money from another project that’s also in the works: a new headquarters for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department.
Two other large projects that are currently in various stages of progress are the new Guilford County Animal Shelter and a long-awaited maintenance center for Guilford County Emergency Services. There seems to be agreement among the majority of Guilford County commissioners that the mental health center and the Animal Shelter should currently take priority, though Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston has been a big advocate for the new Sheriff’s Department’s headquarters and he is expected to have plenty to say this week about any financial moves that might delay that project for an extended period.
The county is still hoping the state of North Carolina will come through with that anticipated funding but county officials say the project is moving along and finances have to be in place to pay those bills.