It turns out that, when you get a bunch of county commissioners and local town and city leaders together to learn if those towns and cities have any needs they’d like county help on – well, the answer is, “Yes, We have our lists right here.”
That was the situation the Guilford County Board of Commissioners found itself in after Chairman of the Board Skip Alston called a special, virtual meeting on Monday evening, March 1 that included commissioners and mayors and some top staff from area towns.
Alston set the tone for the night at the start.
“This is so you can tell us what’s going on in your city – some projects that you have going on – and then how the county might be able to partner with you on some of those things and how we might be able to work together in the future,” Alston said at the internet-based meeting that saw some technical problems during the evening.
Some speakers couldn’t be seen at times, and others had audio that periodically came and went.
The Monday evening meeting started promptly at 6 p.m. and only lasted about an hour. However, in that time, the mayors and other leaders of Guilford County’s towns – and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan – had a lot to say about projects and goals, and they had plenty of suggestions as to how the county could help.
It was clear early on that economic development was a key unifying wish for many of the county’s towns.
Oak Ridge Mayor Ann Schneider spoke of a new project in her town meant to offer help and guidance for businesses interested in investing in the town. She said the project coincided with an effort to improve the “walkability” and create more of a “village feel” in the town.
“We’re also looking at creative ways to provide water and wastewater treatment options for these businesses because we don’t have water and sewer currently,” Schneider said.
Water and sewer service was a major theme of the evening. Oak Ridge, Stokesdale and Summerfield have all been exploring ways to have better water options for their towns. That discussion has been going on for years and it was something that Summerfield Mayor BJ Barnes stressed as well. In particular, Barnes said, there was a need for a water system for fire protection in Summerfield.
Pleasant Garden Mayor Dean Maddox said his town’s biggest challenge was economic development, and he added that water and sewer were a big piece of the puzzle.
“Like Oak Ridge,” he said. “we’re on well and septic – we do not have utilities.”
Maddox added, “We also do not have the funds to stimulate economic development.”
High Point didn’t have any representatives at the meeting because the 6 p.m. start time conflicted with a High Point City Council meeting. However, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan attended and she said she’d like Guilford County to partner with Greensboro on reducing crime and increasing public safety in Greensboro.
At the meeting, the small town mayors and top town staff members also spoke about the many projects going on in their towns.
Several of the commissioners, as well as new Guilford County Manager Mike Halford and long-time Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne, spoke on the positive benefits of everyone working together for the good of all.
Some of the wishes expressed to the commissioners were big ones and aren’t likely to be granted. Stokesdale’s Mayor John Flynt, for instance, requested that Guilford County turn the clock back years and go back to a prior method of distributing sales taxes in the county. The Board of Commissioners changed the method about a decade and a half ago and, under the current distribution process, Stokesdale which has no property tax doesn’t share in the sales tax revenue distributed to the other municipalities.