In late 2022 and early 2023, Guilford County staff, including County Manager Mike Halford and the Budget Department, worked tirelessly to put together a fair, rational and coherent policy to determine which community-based organizations (CBOs) – nonprofits that provide services that benefit the public – would receive funding in the county budget.

Now it looks like all that work is going down the drain – or perhaps a better way to say it is that the county commissioners are throwing the policy out the window.

In early 2023, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the new policy for funding CBOs to replace the haphazard way that commissioners have funded their favorite organizations in the past.

In previous years, the commissioners have approved funding requests that have come in at the last minute or had a questionable integration with county goals.  In some cases, money in the final county budget was added at the last minute and has gone to groups that some commissioners had never even heard of.

The new policy was meant to change all that.  However, the new policy was approved by the Board of Commissioners in January – and now it’s June.  June is the month when the chairman of the Board of Commissioners and the other commissioners have to make deals and do some horse-trading to gather enough votes to pass a budget.   That usually means funding non-profits that are near and dear to certain commissioners.

When Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was asked recently how confident he was that this year the commissioners would stick to the new policy and only fund CBOs in the budget that met the established criteria, he said there may be some exceptions.

“Those are guidelines,” Alston said of the official new policy that was adopted by a vote of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners just six months ago.

The policy calls for organizations to have met an application deadline, demonstrated program outcomes and provided detailed financial data. The groups would also need to provide information regarding organizational programming and operational costs.

Guilford County Budget Director Toy Beeninga oversaw much of the work that went into the development the brand new policy.

When Beeninga was asked recently if he wished to bet that the commissioners would stick to that carefully crafted policy when the budget is approved this year, Beeninga said that he is not really a betting man.