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Rhino Times - 2017-05-18
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-05-18 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 20 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, May 18, 2017 COUNTY SALARIES John Hammer Proposed City Budget Includes Tax & Water Increases plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer Mayor Vaughan by John Hammer Tuesday night, May 16, Mayor Nancy Vaughan had another tough City Council meeting, but this one had a much better outcome than the City Council meeting two weeks ago. Vaughan took control, had three people removed from the Council Chambers and, for the rest of the meeting, there were no more outbursts. Two weeks ago I wrote that if Vaughan was unable or unwilling to do her job and run the City Council meetings so that the business of the city could be conducted, then she should resign. This week Vaughan made it clear she intends to run the meeting. She told the people disrupting the meeting she would have them removed one by one if they continued to be disruptive, and she did. After Vaughan had the third person removed, she ordered the security staff and police to remove anyone else who yelled from the audience without her specifically pointing them out. No one else was removed. It made an incredible difference because City Council meetings have been getting out of hand for a while. Takes Control Two weeks ago when the City Council ran off the dais and left the room to the hooligans who were disrupting the meeting, it was embarrassing for the City Council and for Greensboro. That is not the way the majority of the people of Greensboro want their government run. To her credit, Vaughan realized that she had not handled that meeting well and decided not to make that mistake again. With the first outcry from someone in the audience, Vaughan said the next person shouting out would be removed and then had a woman removed, then a man was removed and finally one more man decided to try Vaughan’s resolve and he too was removed. The people in the audience got the message and the City Council was allowed to continue its meeting uninterrupted. Boy Scout Troop 244 was in the audience observing the meeting and they got to see a much more interesting one than most. During all of the interruptions, City Councilmember Mike Barber was speaking about the Jose Charles case. Barber has been largely silent about the case and has said that in his opinion Vaughan and City Councilmembers Nancy Hoffmann, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Justin Outling violated the court order not to speak about the contents of the video of Charles arrest, which the council had viewed in closed session when they held a press conference to state that they supported the actions of Police Chief Wayne Scott and City Manager Jim Westmoreland. Scott and Westmoreland took no action regarding the police officers who arrested Charles after a large fight in Center City Park on July 4, 2016. By taking no action the police chief and manager confirmed that the police officers had acted in accordance with city policy and state law in making the arrest. Barber said his comments were not based on anything he saw in the video but on Charles’ recent court case, which, at the request of Charles’ mother, was open to the public. Charles was a juvenile when he was arrested and the court cases for juveniles are ordinarily closed to the public and the court records are sealed. Barber said, “The representation of the convicted juvenile were grossly inaccurate by the people who have come up here repeatedly to speak.” He said, “The headline that talked about the charges being dropped was the most inaccurate headline we have ever seen.” The headline was in the News & Record and read, ”Judge dismisses charges against teen from festival.” He noted that the lesser charges against Charles were dropped and Charles pled guilty to two counts of breaking and entering and one count of conspiracy to commit breaking and entering, which are felonies. This is fairly common in court – lesser charges are often dismissed if the defendant will plead guilty to the more serious crimes. Charles pled guilty to three felonies it was also revealed in court that he is a gang member and will soon be a father. The Charles that stood in court is a far cry from the innocent child that speakers have been describing at City Council meetings. None of the many followers of Nelson Johnson who have come to speak to the City Council in the past couple of months about how Charles was mistreated by police, with the exception of his mother, had seen the video and none of them were present when Charles was arrested. They have no idea what happened other than what they had been told. The City Council, which has seen the video, including Outling – who didn’t hesitate to say that he believed Dejuan Yourse was mistreated by police after the City Council viewed the video of the incident involving Yourse – agreed that the police followed the law and police policy in arresting Charles. After seeing the video, Outling said, “It wasn’t close.” He added, “There is zero doubt in my mind.” Barber at Tuesday’s meeting had a few more things to say. He said that the people who had done the most damage to Charles were the people who came to the City Council and, at meeting after meeting, said his name publicly. Barber said that the political and legal philosophy governing juvenile offenders is that they should be protected from the public so that a mistake made in their youth doesn’t follow them when they are an adult. Barber also said that after the Charles case, “there’ll be another one. It may or may not be a juvenile, but it will be just as specious.” Barber was interrupted by Brian Watkins, who has regularly been yelling and disrupting council (continued on page 28)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer Editor I can’t remember who was mayor when the City Council first talked about building a skateboard park, and because of a fire at city hall in 1888, those records are not available. If the city had just had a few more buckets perhaps the records could have been saved and we’d know exactly when it was. That’s an exaggeration, but it does go back years, and the site has had more potential locations than I can remember. But Greensboro has built a skate park in Latham Park off Hill Street, and the grand opening is Saturday, May 20 at 4 p.m. The rezoning request for a new Bee Safe Storage facility on Martinsville Road just south of the Lawndale intersection was approved by a unanimous vote of the Zoning Commission on Monday. But it was an unusual hearing in that one and a half people spoke against it. One neighbor listed the usual complaints for a rezoning request, traffic, noise, crime, etc., and then a woman went to the podium to speak against it. After a few minutes the city staff realized she was speaking against a different rezoning request. When the error was pointed out to her, she said she was against this rezoning also, but went back to her seat to save her speech for a rezoning request for land at the intersection of Pisgah Church Road and Lawndale a block away. It’s unusual to have two unrelated rezoning requests so close together, but it is far more unusual to have someone come to the podium to speak against the wrong rezoning request. Speaking of that, it will probably never be fixed but the road name Martinsville is a typo. The correct name for the road is Martinville, which was the name of the county seat of Guilford County before Greensboro was built in 1808. At some point in the intervening 209 years, either a sign painter thought the name was misspelled and fixed it, or Greensboro forgot what the road was named for in the first place. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, better known as the sit-in museum, is adept at playing the race card. The museum is being asked by Duke Energy to pay its electric bill like everyone else in the state. Because Duke Energy wants the museum to pay its electric bill, Duke Energy is accused by the museum leaders of being racist. Hasn’t this gone far enough? Everyone I know regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, religion, height, weight, age, education or health is required to pay their electric bill. The city, the county, the state, the federal government, colleges, universities, nonprofits, foundations, churches, temples, mosques, libraries, recreation centers, museums, parks and anything else you can name are all required to pay for the electricity they use every month. How could it possibly be racist to require the civil rights museum to pay for its electricity like everybody and every other organization in the state? It is silly to even say that requiring the civil rights museum to pay its electric bill is racist. But in defense of the civil rights museum, calling people racists has gotten them out of paying bills in the past, so it makes sense to stick with what works. The Rhino Times will hold its Country Club Schmoozefest on Thursday, May 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Starmount Forest Country Club at 1 Sam Sneed Drive. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). On a recent Saturday night, I was at the office and saw a group of women park in the Rhino Times parking lot. The lot has 24-hour towing, so I often warn people that they are likely to get towed. A lot of the time people decide to blame the messenger and start yelling at me. I didn’t feel like getting yelled at so I didn’t go down and warn the young women. But it seems I can’t win at this game because now I don’t feel bad about being yelled at, but I do feel bad because their car was towed and I know what a hassle that is. Maybe I should just quit working late at night on weekends. I remember as a child learning that the pyramids were tributes to dead pharaohs. It seemed like an enormous amount of time and effort for a tribute. Our presidential libraries are approaching the same level of absurdity. The Obama library will cost an estimated $500 million, but as it’s a quasigovernmental project, the final cost will likely be much higher. The big difference is the libraries are for living presidents. In fact, former President Bill Clinton built himself a penthouse apartment in his library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and that is where, according to reliable sources, he lives. RHINO TIMES BUSINESS AND SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170 Reach over 50,000 in our Service Directory. Reserve your space by calling (336) 763-4170 or emailing sales@rhinotimes.com

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 Our Almost Annual Showroom Sample Chairs & Used Office Furniture Sale! Sit Smart with Simmons table of CONTENTS Sale starts 8:00 am Tuesday, May 23 rd - Friday, May 26 th OUR LARGEST OFFICE CHAIR SALE YET *Over 150 office chairs available. Many are great discounted models, showroom samples or slightly used. This is a great opportunity to pick up a sample chair for your desk that could usually cost double. Prices start at $35! Discounts up to 75%. If you are thinking about a new chair, this is the time. 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 ALSTON AND TRUMP AGREE ON ONE THING: ELECTIONS NEED TO BE FIXED BY SCOTT D. YOST 8 PROPOSED $532 MILLION CITY BUDGET INCLUDES TAX AND WATER INCREASES BY JOHN HAMMER 9 GUILFORD COUNTY SALARY LIST 10 COMMISSIONERS- SCHOOLS FUNDING DANCE MUSIC STARTING UP BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 19 SUDOKU 19 PUZZLE ANSWERS 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 THE SOUND OF THE BEEP 30 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR *File Cabinets – Desks – Breakroom Furniture and many other items All New Products are also marked down Simmons Office Interiors • 301-D Pomona Drive • Greensboro, NC 27407 336.292.8525 • www.sitsmart.com • sales@sitsmart.com Affordable quality you can trust...for over 35 years Looking at Buying a Pre-Owned Car? Ask about our pre-purchase inspections! Synthetic Oil Change...$99 95 Includes up to 7 quarts Castrol Syntec 5w30, fi lter and labor Annual Brake Fluid Change..$99 95 Coolant Change...........$99 95 2629 Randleman Road | www.kormanautoworks.com 336.275.1494 Cover: Woman being removed from the Tuesday night City Council meeting for being disruptive. Photo by John Hammer PUBLISHER Roy Carroll EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo managing editor ELAINE HAMMER creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD advertising consultants DONNA GOODWIN TYE SINGLETON 216 West Market Street, Greensboro NC 27401 P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170 (336) 763-2585 fax | sales@rhinotimes.com | www.rhinotimes.com

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Alston and Trump Agree on One Thing: Elections Need To Be Fixed by Scott D. Yost Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston has launched a formal protest with the Guilford County Democratic Party over what Alston said was an illegitimate organizational process of a key precinct in District 8 that hurt his chances of becoming a county commissioner. The protest calls for that precinct to be reorganized in accordance with the bylaws of the Democratic Party and it addresses other issues related to the political organization of that district. Alston said this week that a group of white residents in the predominately black District 8 “hijacked” the Guilford County Democratic Party Executive Committee and nearly cost him the seat he now holds on the Board of Commissioners. He said filing the complaint is an attempt to fight injustice and overturn an effort by that small group of whites to subvert the will of the vast majority of African Americans in that district. Alston was elected as the District 8 Guilford County commissioner late last month by the county’s Democratic Party Executive Committee, which was filling a vacant seat on the Board of Commissioners that opened up when former Commissioner Ray Trapp stepped down to take a job with NC A&T State University. Alston won the seat over opponent April Parker in a heated and bitterly divisive battle that saw issues of race, sexuality and Skip Alston party politics come into play and left acrimonious feelings permeating the district. Alston won that Executive Committee election by the skin of his teeth – a 2 percent margin – on Wednesday, April 26, but the new commissioner said the narrowness of his victory was the result of illegal or improper organization that violated the bylaws of the state’s Democratic Party. Parker, who is black and gay, was nearly put into the seat through an effort spearheaded by fellow gay advocates in that district. While Alston is extremely popular in District 8, and would have easily won in a one-person, one-vote committee election, precinct chairs on the Executive Committee get more votes than other committee members – which is how a small group of white residents was able to call the shots in one April meeting where Alston’s quest was put on hold. Alston said one of his major complaints centers on Precinct G-69. He said the organizational meeting for that precinct made Ryan Butler, an attorney for Replacements Ltd., the precinct chairman, and he said the meeting was held in Butler’s house. Alston also said citizens in that precinct weren’t properly notified of the meeting and that the meeting was not held in a public place, in a violation of party rules. He added that that allowed the whites who knew about the meeting and attended it to make all the calls regarding the precinct’s leadership. “They hijacked the precinct,” Alston said. “They organized it with five white people.” He said that, though the precinct is overwhelmingly black, there was no black representation and that allowed a small group of whites in a private home to control it. He said there were other issues of impropriety in District 8 that unfairly helped Parker’s quest as well. “Those should have been black votes,” Alston said of some of the multiple votes that went against him. “April should not have gotten all the votes she got, and I shouldn’t have had to go through this. She really didn’t have all those votes.” Alston added that he may also file a complaint with the North Carolina Bar Association against Butler, since he’s an attorney, and, Alston claims, Butler used illegitimate practices to organize the district. Butler did not respond to a phone message left at Replacements Ltd., a message left on his cell phone voicemail or a Facebook message sent by the Rhino Times requesting an interview. Alston said that, in the battle over whether he should fill Trapp’s seat, the small group of whites “made an end run” around the will of District 8 residents and the rules of the Democratic Party – which, he reiterated, was why his election turned out so close. Alston said he had many concerns about the organization of the precincts in the 21-precinct district – as well as about the lack of organization for 15 precincts in the district. Complicating matters was the fact that many of the white community wanting to vote Parker in were also LGBT advocates. Parker, a grass roots organizer, Black Lives Matter activist and an outspoken gay rights defender, would have been the first openly gay commissioner to serve on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, and some of the voters backing her wanted to see her on the board for that reason. Though Alston won the seat in the end, he said he’s disturbed by the way the district has been organized and the way much of it is completely unorganized. “I am not going to let this go,” Alston said, vowing to help repair the party’s political structure in the district. He said he wants the see the unorganized District 8 precincts organized, and the complaint is also meant to force a reorganization of G-69. He said another precinct in the district raised serious questions as well, though the current complaint does not address those concerns. Alston also said that, while he’s happy he won the commissioners seat, that doesn’t change the fact that the representational system for (continued on page 14)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 Greensboro College congratulates our 2017 honorary degree recipients. Vanessa Yount Carroll Doctor of Humane Letters Education Advocate and Community Philanthropist Roy Edward Carroll, II ’85 Doctor of Business Founder, Chairman, and CEO of The Carroll Companies Think critically. Act justly. Live faithfully. 815 West Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27401 • greensboro.edu • 336-272-7102

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Proposed $532 Million City Budget Includes Tax and Water Increases by John Hammer The people of Greensboro are looking at a tax increase and a water rate increase if the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget proposed by City Manager Jim Westmoreland is approved by the City Council. The budget will go into effect on July 1. It is likely that the City Council will make some tweaks to the $532 million budget, proposed by Westmoreland at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 16 in the Council Chambers. But major changes are unlikely judging from this City Council’s attitude toward past budgets. At the work session held in the Plaza Level Conference Room before the City Council meeting, the proposed water rate increase of 3.75 percent for those inside the city limits and a 1 percent increase for residents outside the city was presented to the council. City Councilmember Mike Barber was the first to raise an objection to the idea that people who do not live in the city and do not pay city property taxes would have less of an increase than those who live in the city and do pay property taxes. Barber had support from most of the councilmembers who spoke on the water rate increase. Water Resources Director Steve Drew said that the recommendation represented a change in philosophy toward those living outside the city. Why the philosophy was changing was unclear despite repeated requests for an explanation. Currently those living outside the city pay 2.44 times the inside-the-city water rate. The state allows cities to charge those outside the city up to three times the rate of city residents. Cary charges outside residents the full triple rate allowed by law. The past philosophy of the City of Greensboro has been to gradually raise the outside rate to that maximum and that appears to be the current philosophy of the City Council. Barber said he didn’t like the idea of city residents being charged more so that those outside the city could be charged less. It is likely the City Council will insist NEED CASH? Cherry’s Fine Guns is looking to buy or consign guns. We are interested in most handguns, most antiques and some long guns. If you are looking to put some cash in your pocket, give Kevin Cherry or Gurney Brown a call today. Please call Gurney or Kevin for details at 854-4182. Our offi ce hours are Monday thru Friday 8 until 5. Be sure to call us before bringing in your guns so we can have the proper expertise available when you arrive FINE GUNS 3408 WEST WENDOVER AVENUE, SUITE N. GREENSBORO, NC 27407 Phone: 854-4182, 24-hour Fax: 854-4184 E-mail: fineguns@cherrys.com that the water rates for those inside and outside the city be raised at equal percentages or the outside rate be raised more than the inside rate. The tax rate increase is sneaky. City Councilmember Jamal Fox said that he would like to see the rate come down, but that seems unlikely. The actual rate is not increasing; it will remain at 63.25 cents – the highest of any comparable city in the state. But Guilford County reevaluated all the property in the county last year, so property values increased. To raise the same revenue as would have been raised without the property reevaluation would set the tax rate at 61.14 cents. This is called the revenue neutral property tax rate and, by state law, after a reevaluation local governments have to make the revenue neutral rate public so they can’t sneak in a tax increase without the public knowing. As a result of the reevaluation, the property owners of Greensboro are in effect going to see a 2.11 cent property tax increase in the upcoming fiscal year. The tax increase will bring in an additional $8.3 million in revenue, which means this is a plush budget with a lot of increases and not many cuts. City employees get a 3 percent pay increase. It’s not across the board but based on merit. There is an additional 2 percent increase for salary structure adjustment. The city will also continue its march toward raising the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour by 2020. The minimum wage will be raised from $12.50 in the current budget to $13. The sworn Police and Fire Department employees receive a 5 percent increase in this budget but that is likely to change judging from comments by city councilmembers. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Justin Outling, Tony Wilkins, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Barber all said they would like to see the police get more of a pay increase to make the Police Department competitive with other law enforcement agencies in the area. Vaughan said, “I think we’re falling really far behind many cities in the state when it comes to police and fire. I think we have to do something a little bit more bold.” Councilmember Sharon Hightower said she would vote against any pay increase for the Police and Fire Departments. As usual, one topic that the city councilmembers talked about was funding for outside agencies. Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann noted that it was 0.15 percent of the total budget, but it was still the only part of the budget she spoke about, saying that she thought outside agencies should be able to spend the money they receive on capital projects or operating expenses. Outling had suggested that the outside agencies only be funded for capital projects. Wilkins questioned why Sanctuary House, a facility that provides services for the mentally ill, was not funded. Westmoreland said that Sanctuary House was recommended by the committee but he chose not to include it in the budget. Westmoreland, In answering questions from the councilmembers, stressed that the proposed budget was a starting point and the final decision on the budget would be made by the City Council. Usually the City Council gets caught up in discussing the funding for outside agencies and doesn’t do much else. It appears that in this budget the City Council is going to give the police officers and firefighters a larger raise and change the water rate increase so people who live outside the city and can’t vote for them do not get a better deal than those who live inside the city and can vote in city elections. If the council does those two things, it will have more of a part in developing this budget than it has had in several years. Westmoreland pointed out that one of the three unfilled positions that are being eliminated in this budget is an assistant city manager position. He said he was comfortable with the three assistant city managers the city currently had. Two years ago the city had five assistant city managers, although only four worked in the city manager’s office. So it appears that the administration will not be quite as top heavy as it has been in past years. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex is slated to receive $2.9 million in this budget, an increase from $2.7 million in the current fiscal year. Westmoreland said this would allow another employee to be added to Greensboro Aquatic Center and two employees for the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. The council will hold a work session on the budget on Tuesday, May 23 at 2 p.m. in the Plaza Level Conference Room. The public is generally not allowed to speak during work sessions. Community meetings will be held at the Greensboro Historical Museum Auditorium on Tuesday, May 30 and Wednesday, May 31 at 6 p.m. The public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The budget is scheduled to be adopted on Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 2017 Guilford County Salary List by John Hammer The top of the Guilford County salary list is similar to last year’s list, with the same names at the top. County Manager Marty Lawing received about a $4,000 raise to $197,000, so next year he’ll break $200,000. Lawing is also paid slightly more than his colleague across Phill McDonald Plaza, City Manager Jim Westmoreland. People might think this makes sense because Guilford County is much larger than Greensboro, but the forms of government are entirely different. Everyone who works for the City of Greensboro, with the exception of City Attorney Tom Carruthers, works for Westmoreland. County government is a completely different animal. The Sheriff’s Department and the Register of Deeds office, for instance, are run by elected officials. Lawing has no official control over those departments. Then there are the schools, which receive 44 percent of the Guilford County budget and are completely autonomous. The elections office is run by the Board of Elections, not the county manager. When you look at the portion of the county government that is run by the county manager, it is relatively small, but the salary is large. The second person on the list after Lawing is Public Health Division Director Merle Green at $165,000. She isn’t a department head because public health and social services were combined into the Human Services Department, yet she is paid more than any department head in the county, as well as more than Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier at $150,000. The director of the other division of the Human Services Department, Heather Skeens, who is the social services division director, is paid $123,000, or $42,000 less than Green. After Green the list does make more sense, with County Attorney Mark Payne at $163,000. Payne works directly for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and not for Lawing. Fourth is Sheriff BJ Barnes at $154,000. One of the outcomes of the way Guilford County gives raises is that the disparity between the highest paid employees and the lowest paid employees increases over time. For instance, if all county employees get a 2 percent raise, the manager, making $200,000 a year, gets a $4,000 raise to $204,000, while the worker who makes $20,000 a year gets a raise of $400 to $20,400 a year. Over time the gap only gets larger and larger. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, who is an elected official and doesn’t work for the county manager, is being paid $119,000. We are printing the salaries for the 344 county employees who make $60,000 or more. There are, however, 2,303 county employees. For a complete list of county salaries, go to rhinotimes.com. Next week we’ll have City of Greensboro salaries. Lawing, Marty County Manager $197,241 Green, Merle Public Health Director $165,042 Payne, Mark County Attorney $163,471 Barnes, BJ Sheriff $153,659 Grier, Clarence Deputy County Mgr $150,369 Baker, Reid Finance Director $147,326 MacDonald, C. Dentist III $136,849 Dean, John HR Director $135,189 Desai, Hemant Chief Info Officer/Dir $132,773 McNiece, Robert Property/Park Mgt Dir $131,196 Halford, Michael Budget Director $130,846 Bell, Leslie Planning & Dev Dir $127,600 Skeens, Heather Social Svcs Dir $124,886 Powers, Randy Chief Deputy Sheriff $122,032 Chavis, Ben Tax Director $121,529 Lindsay, Bridgett Deputy Dir/ISV $119,610 Thigpen, Jeff Register of Deeds $118,627 Liverman, Angela Child Sup/Crt Serv Dir $117,225 Carter, Ken Asst Health Dir $115,450 Mason, Matt Chief Deputy Attorney $114,491 Bigelow, Sherri Enterprise App Mgr $113,527 Turcola, Matt Chief Deputy Attorney $111,670 Batten, Mary E. Pharmacy Svcs Mgr $110,433 Lockey, Michael Sr Software Architect $109,495 Albright, Jim Emergency Svcs Dir $108,868 Pratt, Crystal Clinical Pharmacist $105,795 McAndrew, Meg Animal Svcs Med Dir $105,000 Hall, Kashif Dentist II $105,000 Hicks, Clay Cash & Debt Mgr $104,265 (continued on page 11)

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com County Commissioners-School Board Funding Dance Music Starting Up by Scott D. Yost In spring, young men’s fancy may turn to love, but the fancy of Guilford County Schools officials turns to something else entirely: How much money the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is going to give the county’s school system in the upcoming county budget. That annual dance between county and school officials has officially begun. Last week, the Guilford County Board of Education adopted a proposed 2017-2018 school system budget that includes a request to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners for $20.2 million more in school funding than the county gave the schools last year. The school system’s request calls for $10.2 million more for operating expenses and $10 million more for capital outlay – that is, for building maintenance and repair. HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS The $10.2 million increase for operations requested in local support would bring the funding from the Board of County Commissioners for the schools’ operating budget to approximately $198.6 million. On Thursday, May 19, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing will present his 2017-2018 budget proposal to the Board of Commissioners and will recommend how much the county should hand over to the schools for the coming fiscal year. In the weeks following that presentation, the county commissioners will study the manager’s proposal and the schools’ request and then haggle over the appropriate amount to fund the schools. According to school officials, $2 million of this year’s request is due to a new “unfunded mandate” from the state legislators that calls for a reduction in class sizes. That will mean Call Today & We’re On Our Way! CARPET VINYL TILE 336-288-6643 336-288-6643 Mobile Showroom A + This sale can not be combined with any other offers. See store for details. Any Size Rooms! INCLUDES Installation! Pad! Moving Furniture! Take Up & Disposal! 1 Year Interest Free Financing! on approved credit Area’s Largest selection of Pet Friendly flooring 1yr INTEREST FREE financing on approved credit Greensboro • Wilmington • Myrtle Beach 336-288-6643 2837 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro • Mon-Fri 8am-6pm • Sat 10am-4pm more teachers and more classroom space – and greater costs. That legislation was revamped earlier this year to help lessen the cost burden on schools in the coming fiscal year, but Guilford County Schools officials say it will still have a budgetary impact in fiscal 2017-2018. Chairman of the Board of Education Alan Duncan said this week that the new state legislation is just one of the things driving up costs for the schools. He said it’s vitally important that Guilford County Schools gets adequate local funding this year since the schools are already making cuts – such as teaching assistant (TA) positions – that it’s been trying hard to avoid. “The bottom line is that this is really serious stuff,” Duncan said of the system’s tight finances. He said that sufficient funding from the county would translate into very real and important benefits for area school children. Duncan said that, at this time of year, every year there’s a lot of media attention devoted to the discussions between school officials and county commissioners but, he said, he should point out that much of the shortfall is because the State of North Carolina doesn’t adequately fund the schools. “My biggest concern is the state,” Duncan said, “which is not funding even close to our needs and has diverted dollars to other programs.” “We also get funding from the federal government, which we have little influence over,” he said. He said he realizes that the lack of adequate funding from state and federal funding puts a big burden on the county when it comes to school funding. Generally, about 60 percent of the county school system’s budget comes from the state, with roughly 7 percent from the federal government. The rest comes from the county, fees, grants and other sources. School officials say this year’s request to the county commissioners is based on estimates of state and federal funding. The school system, with a budget of about $700 million, has a larger budget than Guilford County, which has a budget that usually totals around $600 million. On the capital side of the request this year, Duncan said, the fact that Guilford County Schools received $457 million in bond money that voters approved in 2008 doesn’t mitigate the need for the additional capital funds in the county budget in 2017. “That was nine years ago,” he said of the large successful school bond referendum. Duncan said many new needs have arisen. “New assessments are that there are at least $800 million in capital needs,” Duncan said. Guilford County has now sold all of the bonds from the 2008 referendum. According Guilford County Cash and Debt Manager Clay Hicks, a few weeks ago the county sold the final $130 million in school bonds remaining from that bond referendum. Guilford County used some of those proceeds to pay off a line of credit that had been used for school projects and there’s now $55.3 million unspent that the county is holding for the schools. Duncan said the county commissioners kept local school funding flat for years after the 2008 financial collapse and he said that put a big strain on school finances. He said current shortfalls have meant a cut in positions but, he added, thankfully it won’t mean firing active employees this year since the cut positions are currently unfilled. That could change in the future. “We’re trying to avoid a reduction in force,” the school board chairman said. “The TA’s are a valuable and important, particularly in the lower grades,” He said a reorganization of central staff saved $750,000 in the school budget and, though he hears critics argue the schools are administratively top-heavy, he said that’s simply not the case. “It’s a very, very lean administration,” Duncan said. He said the idea that the system is bloated is “a mantra” that just keeps getting repeated. Democratic Commissioner Skip Alston said he hears the school systems needs loud and clear this year. “I tend to support the school board’s request,” Alston said. “They are the elected officials and, until I hear other arguments why it shouldn’t be granted, I tend to support them.” (continued on page 13)

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