Guilford County government has its problems, but there are some things its very good at – such as collecting all the tax money its owed, running an excellent Register of Deeds Office and answering calls to the main county number in four rings or less.
Another thing the county is good at is spending money – and it’s been doing that in spades when it comes to the federal Covid-19 relief dollars.
The county has now officially spent or committed all of that money.
Recently, Abby Gostling, the program and fiscal recovery manager for Guilford County, provided an update on the funds to the county commissioners.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners were literally meeting and discussing whether or not they would be able to pay the bills to keep the lights on in the county’s buildings. However, during the pandemic, a floodgate of federal help in money and other forms soon meant that they had more money than they knew what to do with – but the money had deadlines on when they had to spend it by.
One former Guilford County commissioner joked to the Rhino Times at the time that it was like the movie Brewster’s Millions, the Richard Pryor comedy in which the main character must spend $30 million in 30 days under a complicated set of rules in order to get a $300 million inheritance.
Guilford County received $104.3 million in federal relief funds – which also came with a complicated set of rules as to how it can be used. Unlike Montgomery Brewster, however, the Guilford County commissioners had no trouble spending it – and, during the Thursday, Aug.17 meeting, several county officials made it publicly known that there was no more of the COVID money to give out and therefore community groups and others should stop asking it.
In all, according to the report presented that night, more than 2,200 Guilford County residents participated in community outreach events and online feedback forums to share their priorities as to how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) money should be spent. In March of 2022, the Board of Commissioners identified the priorities for the money as follows:
· Healthy Early Childhood Environments and Education
· Access to Healthcare
· Behavioral Health & Substance Use
· Small Business, Economy, and Workforce Development
· Broadband and Digital Inclusion
· Strong Community and Government
The money has been spent on everything from water systems to parks enhancements to arts programs and transportation initiatives. A complete list can be found at https://www.guilfordcountync.gov/our-county/administration/covid-recovery-funding.
As of June 30 of this year, Guilford County has allocated all $104.3 million. Of that, the county has already contractually obligated $60.5 million and expended $30.6 million of its total allocation.
In that effort, the county has partnered with more than 50 local governments and non-profits.