The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is practicing what it’s preaching: In the age of the coronavirus, the county has canceled its Thursday, April 2 meeting, and any business scheduled will have to be put on hold until a later date.
The county made the announcement on Tuesday, March 31, one day after Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips announced a second, stronger, Stay at home order that followed on the heels of a similar county order last week.
The meeting cancelation means that, for now at least, the commissioners are taking their own advice and staying home. The board did hold a mid-March meeting while the virus was spreading across the county – but the commissioners didn’t allow media or members of the public to attend that meeting.
On Tuesday, March 24, county staff along with Phillips and Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston held a small meeting to discuss the agenda for the board’s April 2 meeting that’s now canceled. When Phillips was asked after that staff meeting last week if the April 2 commissioners meeting would actually be held, Phillips stated that, in the current environment, he was taking it “one day at a time.”
The Summerfield Town Council held a meeting on Tuesday, March 31 and the Town Council didn’t allow any members of the public to attend due to the state and county orders that now limit gatherings to 10 people or less.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is required by North Carolina law to meet at least once a month – however, the board is also required by law to let the public into meetings. So the State of Emergency powers allowed in state law might conceivably trump the once-a-month meeting requirement as well.
The commissioners generally meet twice a month, on the first and third Thursdays of each.
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne wrote in an email that, “in light of the State of Emergency and attendant circumstances,” it may be that the board could legally go a month without meeting.
“I have not completed my analysis of that question, but I believe the answer is most likely yes,” he said of the possibility.
Payne noted that the county hasn’t canceled the second April meeting and he stated it was his impression that there was a desire of the board to hold a meeting in April – though likely one under special guidelines like the March meeting where audience members were non-existent.
The county’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 16.