GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners dove into details of its proposed $630 million 2021-22 budget during a work session Wednesday afternoon.
Board members had pointed questions when reviewing the $790,000 in recommended funding for economic development organizations, which had requested more than $1.1 million. Commissioner Carolyn Coleman asked why those specific economic development groups were selected. County Manager Mike Halford said those were the same groups the board funded last year.
Vice Chairman Carlvena Foster spoke in favor of increasing the amount for two High Point organizations.
“Forward High Point asked for $40,000 and Forward High Point equates to the same as Downtown Greensboro, which I see you’re recommending $40,000 based on the previous year’s allocation,” Foster said. “I would like to ask that Forward High Point be moved to the $40,000 that it asked for because they perform the same services and this is really only the second year Forward High Point will be receiving dollars from the county.”
The recommended budget allots only $20,000 for Forward High Point. Foster also noted the Friends of John Coltrane had requested $50,000.
“I’m going to ask that we revisit that because they were taken out of the recommendation last year during the budget work session because the festival was cancelled due to COVID,” Foster said. “I’m making those observations right now and I think we can work through this.”
Commissioner Kay Cashion also noted requests from the Southwest Renewal Foundation in High Point and the United Arts Council in Greensboro.
Chairman Skip Alston reminded board members Halford had already submitted his proposed budget at the board’s May 20 meeting.
“It’s in our hands now, and we have another work session scheduled for the 15th so between now and that time we can discuss all and bring back some proposals at that time,” Alston said.
Alston advised board members to gather any other questions they may have or department heads they would like to hear more from.
After hearing Guilford Technical Community College President Anthony Clarke explain how the community college has spent or plans to spend more than $50 million in federal funds related to the ongoing pandemic, board members who asked were told none of that COVID-related relief money could be used for building needs or capital projects.
Foster said she appreciated hearing Clarke provide a breakdown of the state and federal grants related to recovery.
When asked about the Longleaf Commitment grant program recently announced by Gov. Roy Cooper to allow graduating high school students to further their education for two more years at institutions like GTCC, Clarke said the county could not consider it a revenue stream.
“Community colleges do not keep our tuition,” Clarke said. “We turn it into the state.”
Halford reviewed county revenues, saying $546 million had been collected of the $605 million anticipated. The county’s revenue is projected to reach $628.8 million, largely because motor vehicles fees came in higher than expected. On the expense side, the county spent less than expected in personnel costs because of staff vacancies.
“We’ll be in a relatively good position by the end of the year,” Halford said, referring to the fiscal year end on June 30. “We will end in a better position than we were at the end of fiscal year 2020.”
The board is expected to adopt a budget at its June 17 meeting.
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