Guilford County officials are asking county residents what they want from Guilford County government so that, in the coming years, that government can meet the needs of the people it serves.
Earlier this year – before putting the fiscal 2023-2024 budget together – the county held a series of budget town halls that in some cases turned out to be quite lively as people came out and gave county commissioners and county staff a piece of their mind.
Some of those comments helped shaped the new fiscal budget that went into effect on Saturday, July 1. Now, the county is conducting an online survey and is requesting that county residents let officials know what they want out of government going forward. The survey – found at https://designworkshop.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_brrqfPxGq6O4qSa allows you to voice your opinions on a whole gamut of county matters, and the results will be used to shape future budgets and also shape the Guilford County Comprehensive Plan – a strategic plan that’s meant to help guide Guilford County’s policies and services for the next two decades.
According to the county, among other things, “The Comprehensive Plan will be a guide for the Guilford County Planning Board and Planning Staff to help ensure development within the County takes place in a manner that aligns with the community’s vision for the next 10 to 20 years. This survey will inform decisions on land use, community services, infrastructure, economic development, housing, natural resources, historic and cultural resources and other elements.”
The survey, which is made up of questions and comment boxes related to county priorities and current services, also includes some optional demographic questions about the responder. That info will be kept confidential.
So far, from the town halls, letters and the survey, the county has already learned a lot about the things people most want to see from the county in the coming years.
Those include things like “continued investment in Behavioral Health.” Several years ago, a Republican-majority Board of Commissioners, in an effort led by former Chairman Jeff Phillips, conducted a massive overhaul of the county’s mental health system – and residents would like to see that structure added to given the challenges of the ongoing opioid epidemic and the fallout of pandemic isolation.
They also want to see more support for young parents. The county has already undertaken a major effort to see that pregnant mothers and newborns have the help they need to get a good start for the infants.
Residents, according to county officials, also want to see more summer youth development programs and an effective use of the opioid lawsuit settlement funds. Guilford County is getting about $20 million in total in the coming years to help address the epidemic.
Other items of note that many would like to see are more community art and beautification programs, more housing options, a continued strong investment in education, more support for start-up companies in the area, greater public transportation options and a more robust transportation infrastructure.
They also want voting to be highly accessible during elections, property tax relief for seniors and for the county to “continue to improve engagement with the community.”