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On Thursday, Dec. 13, the new Board of Commissioners, in its first regular meeting, got off to an inauspicious start by voting to uphold the raises for department heads that staff had illegally given out. Only Phillips and Branson voted against affirming the raises.
In 2012, Guilford County
continued to destroy the long-standing relationships it has had for years and years with other local governments. For instance, the county has always outsourced the operation and maintenance of its parks to the cities of Greensboro and Burlington and the towns of Gibsonville and Jamestown. However, in 2012, the county decided to end those relationships and instead bring all park operation and maintenance in house. That will happen on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and it remains to be seen how that will work out for the county. Some county officials are very apprehensive about the prospects of the new Guilford County
parks and recreation department.
In 2012, Fox angered many City of Greensboro employees, as well as state court workers, when she kicked those city and court workers out of county parking places they had had for years in some cases, 30 years. The parking spots went to county employees who had been on a waiting list for parking, and that move led to the dissolution of other longstanding agreements between the county and the city.
Fox also upset many residents in eastern Guilford County
when she filed to rezone hundreds of acres of the Guilford County
Prison Farm from agricultural to corporate park. A food distribution company had shown interest in building a large facility on the Prison Farm land, but that company pulled out and, even after it did, Fox continued with her rezoning efforts.
Fox does not own the property; the county does. Her attempt to rezone the property was what is known as a "third party" rezoning, and the move greatly alienated county residents in the area. The Guilford County
Planning Board shot the idea down quickly when they heard Fox's request.
One of the biggest advances for the county is that, in 2012, the county finally opened its giant 1,032-bed jail in downtown Greensboro. The jail, which cost nearly $100 million fully furnished, was the largest single construction project in Guilford County
history and it went off without a hitch.
Well, almost without a hitch: Guilford County
may be the only county in the world that could put a giant labor-intensive building in the middle of a downtown area already strapped for parking without planning any parking for the new facility.
The funny thing about the situation is that Guilford County
owned the giant parking lot behind the YMCA that was right across the street from the new jail. Many said that lot would be an excellent parking lot for the jail and also a perfect site for a large parking deck to serve the jail and other facilities in the area. However, in one of the most bizarre decisions of the year, the Board of Commissioners voted to sell that lot to the YMCA for $2 million rather than keep the prime property for much needed jail parking.
Still, Guilford County
Sheriff BJ Barnes is delighted to finally have his new jail that he fought for for years, even if his employees have nowhere to park.
On Thursday, June 7, the 2012-2013 county budget was adopted by a unanimous vote for the first time since anyone in county government can remember, and the second surprise was that the budget contained a tax decrease the first time a Guilford County
budget has brought taxes down in 14 years. That is a little deceptive, however, because the commissioners were helped by a countywide revaluation of property which happens every eight years a revaluation that left many questions in its wake. Some citizens are now paying a lower rate but paying more in taxes due to a higher assessed value on their property.
The 2012-2013 county budget, which was thrown together quickly in the days leading up to the June 7 commissioners meeting where it was adopted, lowered the county's property tax rate to 78.04 cents per $100 of property value from the previous rate of 78.24 cents.
Looking forward, the good news is that, despite the supposedly unlucky number 13 in the year 2013, next year should be a much better year for Guilford County
government than recent years largely because the county will have a new manager.
The commissioners now seem interested in finding a new county manager who is very different from Fox. Many commissioners have expressed a desire to find an open manager who works well with others and can hopefully repair the damage Fox and her administration has done in recent years.
Given the last several years of county government, there's really only one direction to go. It's hard to imagine that the new board could select a worse manager, and some new commissioners have expressed a desire to provide actual oversight in 2013, rather than to continue the board's tradition of turning a blind eye to wrongdoing and failing to honor the duties they swore to uphold.