Guilford County Manager Mike Halford worked for a county manager for years – as a budget director – so he knows what it’s like not to be on the top rung of county staff.

Apparently, he hasn’t forgotten because these days Halford is pleading for new county staff perks just about every time he speaks to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.  Right now, the goal is to get the salaries of all Guilford County employees to the middle of the pack – the “50th percentile.”

A salary study initiated by the county years ago found that pay for Guilford County employees was significantly lower than the halfway mark for “similarly situated” counties – making it hard for the county to complete for the top employees who have other job options such as Wake County or Mecklenburg County.

Halford has also argued many times that Guilford County employees have workloads that exceed those in other counties because of a low number of employees compared to the number of county residents.

Since Halford became county manager in January 2021, he has made it a quest to raise the pay and brighten the working conditions of the county’s employees.

He recently convinced the Board of Commissioners to approve an across the board 5 percent pay raise for county staff – including already extremely well paid directors – and he has included $15 million in the 2022-2023 manager’s budget proposal to bring salaries up higher.

That budget also includes additional money for merit pay for individual raises for the top-performing employees.

Even with those bumps, Halford has been continually reminding the county commissioners that he will ask for more salary increases in future years.

The manager has made it clear that he doesn’t see the 50th percentile as a reasonable goal for a county the size and importance of Guilford County – the third largest county in the state.

Some of the questions surrounding employee pay will be known very soon when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners adopts a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.