Patrice Toney, Forsyth Co. Budget & Management Analyst

NCLGBA: The People Who Balance NC Communities

We invite you to hear from North Carolina’s local government budget professionals who believe in the value of public service and consider it an honor to bring value to their communities in their respective roles. Twice a month we will be highlighting NCLGBA members who are an important part to the balance in their communities.

Today we will hear from Forsyth County’s Patrice Toney.

 

Forsyth County, located in North Carolina’s Piedmont region, was formed from Stokes County in 1849 and took its name from Col. Benjamin Forsyth, a state legislator who fought and died in the War of 1812. The town of Winston, named after Revolutionary War veteran Maj. Joseph Winston, became the county seat in 1851. In 1913, it merged with its older neighbor Salem (a Moravian town named after the Hebrew word for peace) to form Winston-Salem. Other communities in the county include Kernersville, Clemmons, Lewisville, Tobaccoville, Walkertown, Rural Hall, Bethania, Bethabara, and Belews Creek*.

W-S Downtown

As of 2013, Forsyth County had a population of 361,220 **. Forsyth County is home to major businesses like R. J. Reynolds Corporation and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Important agricultural and industrial products include tobacco, corn, soybeans, furniture, textiles, tractors, and optical fiber. Forsyth County is home to the nation’s first local arts council (the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, established in 1949) as well as the first state-supported arts conservatory (the North Carolina School of the Arts, which opened in 1965). Salem College (1772), Wake Forest University (1834), and Winston-Salem State University (1897) are important academic institutes in the county*.

 

What was the biggest challenge facing your community this fiscal year and how did you address as part of the budget development process?
Two significant issues facing the Forsyth County budget were the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and tax base pressure faced by the volunteer fire departments. There was also significant discussion by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) about funding critical Board of Education projects and improving the condition of the Hall of Justice (Courthouse). In order to address these needs, the BOCC approved an amended debt policy that increases the debt ceiling from 15% to a maximum of 18% of budgeted expenditures. The debt policy change has created an opportunity to consider which projects could be included on a referendum for general obligation bonds, how much, and timing of a ballot issue. Also, several fire tax districts were approved for an increase.

What drew you to a career in public service?
I have always been passionate about helping people and communities which drew me to a career in public service. My entire career (17 plus years) has been dedicated to public service where I have had the privilege of progressively serving in various positions within local government – all of which have made tremendous contributions to the quality of life for residents in this community.

What skills and lessons have been most important to your development as an analyst?
Having the experience of actually working in a couple of departments prior to me working in the budget office has truly enhanced my skills as an analyst. I spent over six years in the Public Library and six years at the Public Health Department. Currently, I am the budget analyst for both of these departments and two others. Understanding firsthand the nature of programs and services truly enhances my ability to make sound recommendations on resource allocations for my departments.

How do you create public value for your organization?
I create public value for Forsyth County government by offering transparency and good fiscal stewardship in the budgetary planning process each year. In addition to my current role, I also have had opportunities to contribute to the shaping of public policies, develop programs, and offer innovative solutions to community needs – all of which create public value.

Patrice Toney (2)

What excites you most about FY 2016 in your community and your department?
FY 2016 presents new opportunities, not only to maintain the current level of services, but also to enhance services to the community. For the first time in years, the Board of County Commissioners approved a 1.15 cent tax rate increase. The school system will benefit from this increase, and also other departments will be able to enhance/expand their services. For example, Public Health was approved for six new school health nurse positions; several non-profits received county funding; and the county is now fully funding a domestic violence program in the District Attorney’s Office called ‘Safe on Seven’.

What excites you most about FY 2016 in your community and your department?
FY 2016 presents new opportunities, not only to maintain the current level of services, but also to enhance services to the community.  For the first time in years, the Board of County Commissioners approved a 1.15 cent tax rate increase.  The school system will benefit from this increase, and also other departments will be able to enhance/expand their services.  For example, Public Health was approved for six new school health nurse positions; several non-profits received county funding; and the county is now fully funding a domestic violence program in the District Attorney’s Office called ‘Safe on Seven’.   

If you didn’t work in budgeting, what would you do?
I have truly learned a lot about the broader organizational view of local government by working in the budgeting and management office.  Therefore, if I did not work in budgeting, I would love to be in a higher-level local government management role with governing and supportive duties to departments.  I plan to continue a career path in public service as I desire to be in a position that can impact policies and programs that shape the landscape for economic prosperity and a good quality of life for all people – through hard work and innovation.

Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
Others may not know that I was an organist for an Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem for several years.  In my spare time I play the piano, tutor children, and participate in a host of volunteer activities.

 

References:
First image: visitwinstonsalem.com
*http://ncpedia.org/geography/forsyth
**Frank Tursi, Winston-Salem: A History (1994)
***U.S. Census Bureau

 

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