The Guilford County Board of Commissioners can be very stingy at budget time since most of the commissioners abhor property tax increases; however, on Monday, June 17, the commissioners voted unanimously to raise the amount of funding for the High Point Market Authority in the coming county budget from $75,000 to $125,000.
Commissioner Hank Henning made the motion at a work session in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House and he seemed surprised and pleased at how quickly fellow commissioners jumped on board and supported his motion.
The Market Authority, which puts on the internationally known High Point furniture market each year, had requested $200,000 from the county for fiscal 2019-2020. Henning argued that, of all the economic development groups that the county funds, the Market Authority was the only one that brought in billions of dollars in economic input. He also pointed out that the county’s funding for the market had remained at $75,000 for years and that the market had requested $200,000.
At the meeting, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing said the funding had been at $75,000 for at least six years – ever since he’d become the manager of Guilford County.
Guilford County Planning Director Leslie Bell told the board that the market would use some of the additional money to market the event and attract more people to it.
“They’re really doing some things with social media,” Bell said.
Commissioner Kay Cashion said she was willing to support the increase because the market had really stepped up its efforts in recent years, but the market had seen no additional county funding in a long time.
Like Henning, Commissioner Skip Alston commented that the economic impact of the market is huge, and Alston added, “There’s a reason they asked for $200,000 – and they have been asking over the years.”
Alston wanted to give the market the full $200,000 requested and Henning seemed to want that as well – however, some commissioners pointed out that budget funds are tight, and there was a question whether a motion to fully fund the request would pass.
Commissioner Justin Conrad said, “I’m not sure we need to give the entire apple in one shot. More than a 100 percent increase in one year is a lot.”
Commissioner Jeff Phillips said it would be more prudent to increase the funding in steps over time.
“It says we are supportive and acknowledges the impact they are making across the region,” Phillips said.
Phillips also said that giving the full $200,000 could be stepping onto a “slippery slope” since other organizations would not doubt also make the argument that their work is underfunded as well.