The number of people employed by Guilford County government has ballooned in recent years, but top county administrators want to add many more and, if recent years are any indication, the county commissioners are going to grant their wish.

The number of new county employee positions to be added will be an important part of the discussions in the coming four months as the board puts together a 2024-2025 fiscal year budget that it plans to adopt in June.

Budget time is traditionally when most new county positions are added.

Guilford County currently has 2,930 full-time employee positions, which may sound like a lot. However, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford has been arguing ever since he became manager three years ago that the county needs many more employees.

A decade ago, the manager would need to beg and plead with the commissioners to add, say, three new Emergency Medical Services workers.  However, this current board, just to name a couple of instances, added three public relations positions in one month, and added five positions to the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Department in one night – and both those moves were in the middle of the budget year.

Halford’s argument is this: When you look at the 25 largest counties in the state, Guilford County only has 5.3 full time positions per 1,000 residents, which is way fewer than most other counties in North Carolina.

Guilford County has fewer employees per 1,000 residents than almost every other county in that group of 25.  Only Wake County, with Raleigh as the county seat, and Johnston County, where the county seat is Smithfield, have fewer employee positions per capita. For Wake, there are 4.1 employees per 1,000 when all the full-time positions are filled, whereas Johnston County has five employees by that same metric.

Davidson and Mecklenburg counties each have 5.5 positions per 1,000 residents.

The counties in the group with the most positions per resident are Brunswick County and New Hanover County, which have 8.5 and 8.6 respectively.

In fact, if one looks at all 100 counties, the average is 9.1 full-time employees per 1000 residents when all positions are filled.

Halford has stated several times in work sessions that his goal is to get Guilford County much closer to the state average and he is likely to get his wish – just as he has been getting all along.  While traditional genie’s only grant three wishes, it is clear that current Guilford County Board of Commissioners has an infinite amount it is willing to grant.