Since becoming county manager over two years ago, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford has argued that there simply aren’t enough county positions to handle all the work that comes with meeting the needs of the residents of the third largest county in the state.

Guilford County’s new 2023-24 fiscal budget includes a total of 2,932.38 positions – that fraction is possible because of the way part-time positions are counted.

That’s a net increase of just over 30 employees once all those jobs are filled.

When the Guilford County Board of Commissioners got hold of Halford’s budget, they added more positions before finally adopting the budget.

Guilford County is now flirting with having over 3,000 employees soon.  That may sound like a lot to some people, but in work sessions Halford constantly explains to commissioners why he believes the county needs even more employees.

In a written message to the board accompanying his budget proposal, Halford presented the heart of his argument.

“The County has about 5.3 positions per 1,000 residents, one of the lowest position-to-resident ratios in the state,” he stated.

In fact, of the 25 largest counties by population, Guilford County is third to last. The highest ratios belong to New Hanover County at 8.6 positions per resident, Brunswick County at 8.5 and Wayne County at 7.8.

The two counties that lead Guilford County in terms of population – Wake County and Mecklenburg County – both have a ratio near that of Guilford County.  Wake County has only 4.1 job slots per 1000 residents, while Mecklenburg County has 5.1.

The new budget includes positions where Halford thinks help is needed the most. It includes additional social services and public health positions as well as support for Guilford County’s major effort to reduce infant mortality.

Despite a net gain of positions in the new budget, 58 county positions will be eliminated due to the fact that funding streams for those jobs have dried up.