When Guilford County Manager Mike Halford gives his fiscal 2023-2024 budget proposal to the Board of Commissioners and county staff on Thursday, May 18, county residents and staff will learn a whole lot about the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Will there be a property tax increase? Will there be funding for a favorite non-profit? Will this or that department get the new positions the department director requested?  How many additional millions will Guilford County Schools get from the county?

The manager’s proposed budget is always a big revelation for residents, reporters, county staff and others, but one interesting thing is that – even though Halford and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston have been meeting about the proposal for months – what’s in Halford recommendation will come as a surprise to Alston as well.

“I have been on the board for 25 years and I don’t know the details,” he said. “I don’t need to know the details. About 85 percent of the budget consists of things you aren’t going to change, and once we see the budget proposal we can look into that 15 percent.”

Once Halford makes his proposal the board holds a public hearing to get input from residents and then the commissioners work hard in early June banging out a document that can at least get five votes and, hopefully, all nine votes.

Alston said that, on some major issues, he does “have some idea” what Halford is going to recommend because the two have engaged in discussions throughout the first part of this year.

For instance, Alston has announced publicly that he will not support a tax increase this year – so it would therefore be very strange if the manager included one in his budget.

Alston also likely has a pretty good idea how much money Halford wants to give the school system.

Guilford County Schools funding is one of those 15 percent of things that very often changes significantly before the final budget is adopted. Other matters that are usually heavily debated and often changed include how much to fund non-profits and how many new positions should be added to various county departments.