In May, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford brought the most expansive, generous budget proposal in the history of Guilford County government to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
On Thursday, June 16, the commissioners piled even more goodies into the budget before passing it on a 6-to-3 vote – with, of course, all of the Democrats voting for it and all of the Republican’s voting against it.
The new fiscal 2022-2023 budget that goes into effect on July 1 includes a massive number of new county positions, an eye-opening array of county employee benefits, extra pay for hard-to-fill jobs like detention officers, $250,000 for the Cure Violence violence prevention program, $20,000 to the Black Suit Initiative (Google it), funding for virtually every other non-profit that asked for it, massive, massive funding for Guilford County Schools and way too many other things to include in a single article.
Between what Halford put in his budget and what the Democratic commissioners added in on top of that, it was a lot like Christmas in June – a very, very wonderful Christmas – with the only real downside being that the bills for all of it go out to county property owners next month. Those are the same property owners who are paying record prices for gas and most everything else, and who have been watching the stock market tank all year long.
Guilford County conducted a 2022 revaluation of all property in the county at a time when values are very high so, even though the new 2022-2023 budget keeps tax bills at the same rate of 73.05 cents per $100 of assessed property value, the bill for a median home in Guilford County will go up by $418.
A good rule of thumb for this year is to expect your property tax bill to go up by a third.
The three Republican Commissioners – Justin Conrad, Alan Perdue and James Upchurch – all spoke on their concerns over the massive expense of the budget at a time when county residents are really struggling.
The Democratic commissioners, on the other hand, focused on the fact that a wide array of county wants and needs were getting met in a single budget.
A Republican-led Board of Commissioners never raised property taxes from 2012 to 2020 – in fact, the board cut taxes – and, now, with the Democrats in control, some Democratic commissioners said that there were a lot of things that went neglected for years and the 2022-2023 budget is making up for that lack of attention.
School funding, they said, fell into that category
The board put a $1.7 billion school bond on the ballot and helped pass it this year, and the manager’s budget proposed over $250 million for operating and capital school expenditures in 2022-2023. The Board of Commissioners, before approving the budget added $3.2 million to the pot to boost supplement pay for principals and assistant principals.
The budget also provides an automatic 5 percent 401(k) contribution to all benefit-eligible county employees and continues giving that benefit to sworn officers.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said that some county employees can’t afford to put in 401(k) money to get the match – so now they don’t have to. The county puts the money in whether or not the employee does.
The new budget also adds merit raises and longevity pay to employee salaries.
All county employees all got a 5 percent pay raise five months ago and those costs are in the new budget as well.
The budget includes $19.7 million for Guilford Technical Community College, which is a $1.6 million increase over 2021-2022 for operating and capital needs.
The new budget also includes 51 new county positions, though it will get help from state and federal dollars for some of those.