The new county budget proposal presented by Guilford County manager Mike Halford has a lot of things in it that a lot of people will like.

For one, it spends $8.6 million to continue providing 66 school nurses for school health services through the county’s health department – though keeping all of those positions filled is tough due to the high demand everywhere for qualified nurses.

Halford’s budget also suggests spending $3 million for mental health, behavioral health, and medical services for inmates being held in the county’s jails in Greensboro and High Point.

If the commissioners agree with the manager when they adopt a final budget next month, it will mean spending $360,000 to add five Adult Protective Services positions to the county’s social services department.

According to a Thursday, May 16 press release from the county, “These positions will enhance the ability and capacity of Adult Protective Services to respond to additional reports and instances of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. These additional positions will help Adult Protective Services’ staff maintain caseloads at or near state recommended levels and respond to referrals and reports in a timely manner and in compliance with State performance standards.”

 The state will reimburse Guilford County 50 percent of those expenses.

Halford recommended that the board approve $4.1 million in additional funding for expected incentive grant payouts associated with recent economic development wins based on agreements that are already signed. Over the last three years, companies have announced expansion plans that include over $900 million in private investment and the addition of roughly 2,400 jobs.

There is $2.2 million in Halford’s suggested budget for community-based organizations and economic development groups. Roughly $1.7 million of that money will support community non-profits doing good work and $565,000 will support economic development organizations.

Guilford County government has tried for more than two decades to come up with a rational way to determine which non-profits get taxpayer money and which don’t, but each year, in the end, if a commissioner wants one of their personal favorites funded, they’ll hold out their vote on the nearly billion-dollar budget to get $25,000 in funding for the pick-your-cause-here.

The recommended budget includes a total of 2,971 county positions. The number of positions has been growing for years but Halford maintains that there are still not nearly enough employees.  A press release from the county states that this “is equivalent to about 5.3 positions per 1,000 residents, one of the lowest position-to-resident ratios in the state.”

It adds that the recommended budget includes new positions to address mandated functions and services.

One new position is a new fire plans examiner to support timely inspections of school bond projects. There’s a lot of school building going on so they need more inspectors.

It also includes a new paralegal and one new county attorney to support mandated “eCourt” expansion. That mandate to increase the electronic filing of court cases and provide more information online will affect social service cases.

One Communications and Public Relations position will support compliance with the US Department of Justice’s April 2024 publication of its final rule on website accessibility for state and local governments under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The budget also includes $2.1 million to support the County’s performance-based merit program consisting of a merit pool equivalent of 3 percent as well as $2 million more for more pay for deputy sheriffs and detention officers since the county constantly has a problem with vacancies in that department and has that problem for years.

The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a work session for Wednesday, May 23 and Tuesday, June 11 to hold discussions meant to help finalize the budget before adoption at the commissioners’ Thursday, June 20 meeting.

The full recommended budget for fiscal 2024-2025 is available on Guilford County government’s website for those who want to see it. For those who wish to comment on the budget, the time to do so is on Thursday, June 6, when the commissioners will hold a public hearing on the manager’s proposed budget. That hearing will be in the commissioners’ meeting room on the second floor of the Old Guilford County Court House.