Well, it certainly was interesting the way in which the Guilford County Board of Commissioners decided to fund non-profits in the new 2023-2024 fiscal budget that just went into effect.

The Rhino Times has already reported that the county abandoned a well-thought-out process established by county staff that was meant to treat all organizations fairly, protect the county from fraud and make sure that the actions of the non-profits helped Guilford County government achieve its stated goals.

But there’s a lot more to the weird and wacky way in which the county arrived at its non-profit funding choices this year.

For instance, though the county established a comprehensive non-profit funding policy and came up with a list of non-profits that the county manager was supposed to suggest funding, that list was nowhere to be found in the recommended county budget.

In the past, the Guilford County manager has included in his or her budget recommendations which groups should be funded, however, this year, there was no such list, but there was this statement about how much work the county had put into the non-profit funding policy.

“Overall, staff invested approximately 200 hours, or roughly 25 days, in this process to ensure that all applicants were reviewed fairly and equitably in the County’s funding allocation,” reads a statement in the budget.

“Following the March 31 application deadline, staff began reviewing all 115 applications,” the budget states.  “Staff reviewed each application and categorized them into five distinct service areas based on the type of service or program mentioned throughout the application … The categorization allowed staff to ensure that each application was reviewed by the relevant departments.”

So, staff had a presumably put together a terrific list somewhere, but that list was nowhere to be found in the county managers’ recommended budget.

Here’s why, according to the budget’s language:

“The FY2024 Recommended Budget does not include the recommended list of funding allocations. Instead, it includes $1.77 million earmarked for future allocation. Staff expect to present the recommended list to the Board of Commissioners during the first work session after budget adoption.”

Staff may have expected  that, but that’s not at all what happened – instead, the Guilford County commissioners put a list of their own into the budget and adopted it with the new budget in June. The board funded a long list of non-profits, which, by the way, got a total of nearly $1.9 million.

That’s over $100,000 more than the $1.77 million Halford had put aside in his budget.

It’s possible that neither county staff nor the commissioners wanted to hold a comical July work session where the new policy was expounded upon by staff and then the commissioners immediately started adding their favorite community-based organizations, even if those groups were unaudited, didn’t meet policy criteria and, perhaps, in some cases, didn’t even meet the application deadline.

The Rhino Times is looking into the differences between the list of those non-profit groups that met the county’s “policy” criteria and the list that showed up magically out of nowhere in the final budget that was approved by commissioners without discussion or comment.

So, in short, county staff spent 200 hours creating and implementing a clear coherent, well-thought-out “fair and equitable” funding policy that the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved.

Staff meticulously went through and checked more than 100 applications to find the ones that deserved funding. Then, the county commissioners rejected the policy they themselves approved unanimously a few months earlier, and went on to fund non-profits the way the board always has in modern history – by giving money to those groups that are the “pet projects” of one or more commissioners.