When Guilford County Manager Mike Halford presented his $832-million budget proposal to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, May 18, he had something much more important on his mind than the budget.

So much so that, during the manager’s budget message – one of the most important moments each year for Guilford County government – Halford choked up and even shed a few tears in the middle of the presentation.

He was talking about Emergency Services response times when it happened.

“It’s important …” he said of response times. “On a personal note here …”

Then he went silent for a moment with all eyes focused on him.

As he began to regain his composure, he said very quietly, “Sorry.”

He then explained his emotion in a shaky voice that made it clear he’d had something else on his mind that day.

“My youngest daughter was in a car accident about 3:30 today and I got a frantic call from her,” he said, adding that the car was totaled.  “But I knew, I knew she was OK because they said EMS was there.”

An emotional Halford went on to praise the county’s emergency response staff and he even used the harrowing experience to make the point of why it was so important to the well-being of county residents to adequately fund the department to keep response times down.

Halford’s budget message and proposal for the 2023-2024 fiscal budget was the most interesting manager’s budget proposal so far this century – but not just because of that moment.

Halford began the presentation by saying, “This is going to be a little non-traditional.  I want you to close your eyes for a minute and when you open them, look at your screens”

He said, “Think about today at 5:45 a.m. when you get up.”

He went on to talk about “a day in the life of the county budget.”

For instance, he spoke about driving to work and getting behind a school bus and he used that to speak about the importance of the school system.

As he went through the day, he brought in various county services and show how those services touch residents all day long.

The presentation was also interesting in that it revealed that Halford seemed to think most people get up at 5:45 a.m.

Several commissioners told the Rhino Times they thought Halford did a great job by making interesting what, over the years, has usually been a very dry presentation.

In the coming weeks, as the commissioners begin making changes to the budget recommendation before adopting a final budget, everyone will get to see what the commissioners think of the actual content of the budget that Halford proposed.