- By Todd Luck
- Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Commissioners reflect on county’s 2021 initiatives
County Commissioners reflected on Forsyth County Government’s accomplishments for this year during a meeting held on Dec. 2.
During the meeting, Dave Plyler was re-elected by his fellow commissioners as chair and Don Martin was re-elected as vice chair.
Plyler and Martin gave a year-end review looking at what the county has done in 2021. Plyler talked about the monumental effort to vaccinate the public against COVID-19. Thanks in part to Public Health staff—who have administered more than 115,000 COVID vaccinations at the Health Department, the Fairgrounds mass vaccination site, and at 136 community vaccination events-- 70 percent of adults in Forsyth County are now fully vaccinated.
Martin said the commissioners are grateful for the hard work of everyone involved in this massive effort.
“So, a lot of thanks to staff that have stepped up-- who had full time jobs to begin with-- to make this as successful a response as we could,” said Martin.
Martin also praised staff involved in funding recommendations for federal money the county receives to offset the impacts of the pandemic. Staff has been reviewing 176 applications for the $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds that the county will be allocating to see if the projects meet complex federal guidelines. Martin thanked everyone who did this work on top of their normal, full-time responsibilities.
The county has also had to deal with problems exasperated by the pandemic, like increased gun violence, which ARPA funds will be used to address. County staff, in partnership with the City of Winston-Salem and other partner agencies, have been working to bring the Cure Violence model to Forsyth County, with a report expected next week by Cure Violence staff on utilizing local individuals and organizations to create a local, evidence-based violence interruption program.
Martin said the pandemic also created supply chain issues and labor shortages. The county has dealt with supply chain issues by accelerating the purchase of difficult to purchase items, like ambulances. Martin said the county has also worked to recognize the efforts of its outstanding staff through an aggressive premium pay plan.
Tax Department staff completed the reappraisal of real estate values this year, finding an increasingly strong tax base, which increased the estimated revenue from each penny of property tax from $3.7 million to $4.2 million. In response to this, commissioners lowered the tax rate from 74.35 cents per $100 of property value to 67.78 cent.
In accordance with state law, commissioners also made a change to commissioners’ District A, adding precinct 905 to it, to help bring the proportion of residents per commissioner closer to District B.
Economic development continues around the county’s Smith Reynolds Airport, guided by the aerotropolis study. This included the sale of county-owned property at Lansing Drive for a Garner Foods facility.
The commissioners hired a lobbyist to advocate for county projects and interests at the State General Assembly and to enhance the work of the county’s Legislative Delegation. In the state budget that was passed in November, Forsyth County received more than $300 million in funding.
To improve behavioral health services, the county has realigned with Partners Health Management as its LME/MCO to provide behavioral health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental delay services. Partners assumed responsibility for these services on November 1, and early feedback on the transition has been positive.
The county has also been working on many construction projects like the new courthouse, the new Kaleideum museum, the completed Clemmons Library, airport terminal renovation and hangers, Tanglewood Clubhouse renovations and developing a new park at Belews Lake.
Other commissioners also gave their year-end remarks, thanking county residents for their support and county staff for their hard work.