#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Building Connections to Increase Meaning

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2019 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our first #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Ellenore Holbrook, Budget Analyst, City of Asheville

The 2019 Winter Conference addressed a wide variety of topics throughout its sessions, but I found one dominant theme between them all: connecting with one another.

I am not talking about connecting in the formal, shake hands and talk about the weather sense of networking. Rather, talking about the differences in our experiences, acknowledging them, and learning from one another.

I first noticed this theme during the opening session with Mitchell Silver who discussed how to plan for the 21st century. He spoke about changing demographics at the local, state, and national levels and how they would impact the challenges our communities face over time. What struck me was when he spoke openly about the different generations, their attributes, and how we are able to learn from one another to better support our organizations. As the demographics of NCLGBA change, we continue to learn new ideas from one another and push ourselves to be better.

The theme of connection continued throughout a number of sessions, including the panel on the Recession. As someone who was in high school during the Great Recession, I do not have a clear idea of how it impacted our organizations. By being able to hear from those who experienced it firsthand, we are able to gain an understanding of how we can better address the next recession.

Finally, my favorite session (and I promise it was not because I helped plan it!) was Speed Coaching. Entirely centered on connecting with those in your field, it provided a space for those beginning their budget career to ask questions and listen to those who have a wide breadth of experience. With the time constraint, it pushed participants to ask valuable questions quickly, rather than attempting to make small talk. The best part was after the session officially ended, most individuals remained in the room to continue their conversations and meet others.

Building connections with one another is important but also difficult. It can be hard to get over the awkwardness of meeting new people, asking potentially difficult questions, and making yourself vulnerable in recognizing what you do not know. This conference provided opportunities for everyone to open up, learn about something new, and connect with others in a valuable and mutually beneficial way.

Announcing the 2019 Winter Conference Scholarship Winners

The NCLGBA Board is pleased to announce two scholarship winners for the 2019 Winter Conference:

Mimi Clemens
Mimi is a Master of Public Administration Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill. She completed her undergraduate studies in public policy and history at the College of William & Mary. Growing up near Washington, D.C., Mimi has a true passion for government and enjoys local government podcasts like ELGL’s GovLove. Currently, she works as a Research Assistant for the Local Government Workplaces Initiative at the UNC School of Government. She would love to meet all of you, so don’t hesitate to say “hi” and chat! Mimi is set to graduate in May 2020 and is looking forward to beginning her career in local government.

Rusty Mau
Rusty is a graduate of NC State University with a master’s degree in economics. He is a passionate management and budget analyst with Buncombe County and has a variety of professional experiences; other professional experience includes serving as a legislative assistant with the U.S. House of Representatives and working as a quantitative analyst with Bank of America. Rusty enjoys hiking in the NC mountains with his wife, Selena, and their dog, Bojangles (@its.bo.time).

Please be sure to introduce yourself to our winners at the conference, give a warm welcome, share a little about yourself during the networking breaks, and hold onto their contact information to make future connections.

2019 Winter Conference Networking Update!

Good afternoon!

We are nearing the 1-month countdown to the much anticipated NCLGBA 2019 Winter Conference in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.  The planning committee and board is excited to present a powerful slate of speakers and activities for our membership.  We will be sending a draft agenda out next week and look forward to sharing the full details with you then.  Until then please take a closer look at some exciting highlights!

  • The “RAD Plan, Man” bus tour! – Join the natives in learning how Asheville is turning a vision into a reality with a tour of a massive road, greenway, stormwater, and civic space project in their local River Arts District (RAD).  The tour will direct members through the unique industrial and arts district along the French Broad River and showcase their use of grants and private investment to revitalize the area.  Seating is limited to twenty-two (22) spaces.  Please e-mail Taylor Floyd and copy me to reserve your spot (first come, first serve).
  • Networking Hot Spots – As we wind down on Thursday, get ready for an opportunity to share ideas, figure out dinner plans, or reflect on how embarrassing that one moment was for Paarth.  We will be hosting a room of round-table topics ranging from City-County Relations, to Best Hiring Practices and a highly acclaimed “General” conversation table.  Additionally, we will have a room dedicated to a “Speed Coaching” exercise.  Ten (10) of your experienced colleagues have offered their time to sit in a room for one-on-one conversations with our members.  This opportunity is for those newer members looking for career guidance and is by reservation only (first come, first serve).  To sign-up please e-mail Ellenore Holbrook and copy me on the message.

Please do not forget to register for the conference and lock in your hotel rooms today!  A trip to Beer City USA and the eclectic downtown Asheville scene is not one you are going to want to miss.  Did I mention that we have great sponsors making plans as well?  Look for an ELGL and Oracle partnered supper club when you visit the sponsor booths.

Registration is now closed. If you have questions, please contact Teresa Fulk, NCLGBA Treasurer.

See you in a month!

Brian Pahle

NCLGBA 3rd Vice President

Nominations Open for 2019 Vogt Award

Nominations for the 2019 Vogt Award are closed.


Good Morning Local Government Budget Professionals:

It is my pleasure to announce and encourage nominations for the 2019 A. John “Jack” Vogt Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Advancement of Local Government Budgeting and Evaluation. This career award is the highest annual award presented by the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) to recognize individuals who have served as innovators and leaders advancing budget and/or evaluation practices in North Carolina local government during their careers.

In 2006, Dr. Jack Vogt became the first recipient of the award to honor his thirty-four year legacy as an innovator, teacher, mentor, and consummate student of local government budgeting and evaluation.

Nominees must have a minimum of ten years of local government service in North Carolina.  “Government service” is defined broadly as any profession that works in or with municipal, county, or other local government jurisdictions. Examples include budget/finance professionals, city/county managers, elected officials, academics, and local government financial consultants.

Nomination applications and a list of previous award winners can be accessed on the NCLGBA website. Completed nomination applications should be submitted via email to vogtaward@nclgba.org by 11:59pm on Friday, November 8, 2019. A committee from the NCLGBA will review the submissions and present the award at the 2019 Winter Budget Conference on Thursday, December 12th during the luncheon held at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, NC.

If you have any questions about the nomination form or process, please feel free to contact me at michelledaniels.work@gmail.com or at (919) 351-0104.

North Carolina has a strong, national reputation as a leader in local government budgeting and evaluation. I hope you will take this opportunity to recognize those who have helped us earn this reputation and charted new paths for all of us to participate, learn from and benefit.

Thank You,

Michelle Daniels
2019-2020 President, NCLGBA

Winter 2019 Conference Registration and Room Block Now Open

Registration and room block for the 2019 Winter Conference is now open!

Registrations can be made by credit card or check. Every attendee must fill out their own registration form. More detailed directions for registration can be found on the Conference Information page.

Reservations for the conference hotel – the Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts – can be made online or by phone at 1-844-330-0296 or 828-285-2603 using group name NCLGBA and code NLG. Cancellations must be received 72 hours prior to hotel stay. Additional information can be found on the Conference Information page.

The deadline for both conference registration and reserving at the group rate is Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Continue to watch the website and listserv for future 2019 Winter Conference news and updates!

Join or Renew Your NCLGBA Membership for 2019-20

It’s that time again – time to renew your NCLGBA membership for 2019-20! If you are not already a member, this is a great time to join!

The membership renewal letter and forms are available on the membership page here.

Please distribute the membership information to others within your jurisdiction that you feel may have an interest in joining the Association. Interested persons might include city or county managers and assistants; budget or finance directors; management and budget analysts; financial management analysts; strategy and performance professionals; or administrative officers in operating departments of your government, public utility, or school units having budget and evaluation responsibilities.

If you have questions about payments or membership, please direct them to Teresa Fulk, Treasurer.

2019 Winter Conference Scholarship Application is Live

The NCLGBA is excited to announce that the application period for the 2019 Winter Conference Scholarship Program is now open!

The Association extends financial support through this program to first-time attendees, which includes MPA students, interns, and professionals in our field who have never previously attended and NCLGBA conference. The NCLGBA scholarship recipient will receive one (1) paid conference registration fee and two (2) nights hotel stay for the 2019 Winter NCLGBA Conference in Asheville at the Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts from December 11th to December 13th. The 2019 Winter Conference Scholarship Application is available here or on our Conference Information page. All applications are due by midnight, Friday, October 11. Eligible applicants should submit their application via e-mail to christopher.williams@mecklenburgcountync.gov with #NCLGBA Scholarship Program in the subject line. Award recipients will be notified by Friday, November 8, 2019.

Feel free to contact Christopher Williams, NCLGBA 1st Vice President, with any questions. If you or someone you know is interested in attending an outstanding budget conference as a 2019 scholarship winner, we encourage you to apply or pass along this announcement.

2019 Winter Conference Planning Meeting

On behalf of the NCLGBA Board, we invite you to the 2019 Winter Conference – Planning Meeting on Friday, September 6, 2019!

The objectives are to:

  • brainstorm conference session topics that are exciting and relevant to our members,
  • secure volunteer commitments including moderators and registration help, and
  • networking with state-wide colleagues!

Click here to RSVP (yes or no) by Friday, August 16, 2019. Even if you can’t attend, please follow the link to share ideas for session topics, speakers, and/or volunteer to be a moderator or help at registration.

Join us in downtown Winston-Salem between 12pm-3pm at the:

Forsyth County Government Center
201 N Chestnut St,
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Lunch (including VG, V, GF, etc.) options will be provided from 12pm-1pm. If you can join us, select your lunch option using the link above.

As always, thank you all for coming together to create great experiences and professional development opportunities for our colleagues across the State. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our conference planners, Brian Pahle or Paarth Mehta.

#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Leadership on Display

Over the last few weeks, we have been featuring reflections on the 2019 Summer Conference.

Our final #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Ross Hatton, 2019 Summer Conference Scholarship Recipient, UNC-Chapel Hill Master of Public Administration Candidate, and Budget and Management Services Intern, Wake County.

When I first applied for the NCLGBA conference scholarship, I had no expectation that I would be lucky enough to receive it. I am deeply thankful to the NCLGBA for giving me the opportunity to learn from its passionate, creative, and talented members who are constantly striving to serve and improve each of their communities.

As I sat down to write this recap, I ran into the problem of having too many sessions to choose from. Whether it was Brandon Juhaish’s Budget Monitoring Report – The Future is the Past, Rebecca Jackson’s Creating a High Performance Culture – Engaged Employees Transforming Communities, or one of the many other engaging panels and sessions, I was impressed by the knowledge and ingenuity of the conference’s many presenters and attendees. However, I found myself particularly struck by Professor Rick Morse’s Lead from Where You Are by Encouraging the Heart, given the many ways in which I saw leadership during the conference.

His session, nestled in the middle of the conference, was an earnest discussion of what it means to be a leader and a necessary reminder that leadership is “everybody’s business”. I have heard many times how management and leadership are fundamentally different concepts, but I have also often felt that these differences can be difficult to communicate and conceptualize. Professor Morse helped remedy this by offering the following five key behaviors of leaders:

  • Model the way
  • Inspire the vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart

As someone in the early stages of his public service career, I am grateful for this reminder that leadership is an opportunity for all of us, regardless of position or experience. I have been lucky to witness empowering and innovative leadership in both my public service experience and at the conference, which has raised the bar for how I aspire to serve my community. It became clear to me, through the Past President Panel: The Bat-Signal has been answered! in particular, that the NCLGBA cares deeply about creating what Professor Morse called a “spirit of community” by celebrating successes, sharing stories, and forging connections.

As Professor Morse concluded his session, he left each of us with a blank letter and encouraged us to take the time to thank someone. We work in a time of unparalleled access to information and data, which often requires us to move quickly in order to be responsive to changing needs or priorities. In light of this, it can be easy to forget to slow down and recognize the people around us for their support, mentorship, and leadership. I appreciated this discussion of leadership and the importance of not forgetting to recognize the people who support us.

I was absolutely thrilled by my first time at the NCLGBA conference. From hearing how other people think about common problems to seeing the novel policies and practices being put into place in other jurisdictions, I was blown away by the activities and leadership of the NCLGBA membership. I look forward to continuing to learn from this community, and I hope to be a part of fostering its growth in the future.

#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Community Engagement in Budgeting

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2019 Summer Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our fifth #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Lauren Brune, Budget Analyst, City of Asheville.

The 2019 NCLGBA Summer Conference was the first one I attended since Winter 2017 and did not disappoint – it was one of the best budget conferences in my experience. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with budget peers new and familiar from across North Carolina, and the mix of conference sessions was informative and engaging.

A common thread I noticed throughout several sessions was one that did not used to tie directly to budgeting: community engagement. This illustrates the notion of the evolving budget profession. The days of spending all day at a desk crunching numbers are gone; instead, we need to get out into our communities to forge partnerships and ensure our services are meeting stakeholders’ needs. Budgeteers must work closely with community engagement staff and management to ensure that the organization’s strategic plan aligns with community priorities, and then allocate financial resources accordingly.

One of the biggest takeaways from Brock Long’s session, “Emergency 2.0,” was how to leverage federal emergency funding through local partnerships. Brock compared emergency management to a chair with four legs: the citizenry, local and state governments, the private sector, and federal government. If any of these legs is weak, it destabilizes the chair and prevents an effective emergency response. The “emergency 2.0” approach is to create partnerships in your community to keep the chair stable. Brock mentioned several examples of how to create such partnerships before a disaster strikes, so that the machine can be put into operation immediately when necessary. He advised local governments to partner with reinsurance agencies to leverage their fund balance, which can provide more flexibility in the permissible uses of funds than federal reimbursements alone. Brock also suggested writing MOUs with local stores to provide food and supplies immediately in case of emergency. By engaging effectively with their communities, local governments can establish a robust emergency management strategy that incorporates effective preparation and response.

The community engagement theme popped up again in the “Budget Monitoring and Reporting” session from Mecklenburg County. Brandon Juhaish explained that Mecklenburg budget staff shares quarterly reports with departments and asks departmental staff for feedback to keep employees engaged in the process. The communication loop then comes full circle when budget staff incorporates departments’ feedback into future reports. This seemingly simple action works to break down silos in the organization and moves the type of engagement from information to collaboration.

The community engagement thread also wove its way into the Past Presidents’ Panel, which illustrated how the budgeting profession has evolved. When Maia Setzer offered words of wisdom to burgeoning budget professionals, she encouraged talking to customers, which I interpreted to mean internally as well as externally. Beyond communicating with citizens, community engagement could take the form of benchmarking and learning from other organizations. It was a good reminder that local governments everywhere borrow ideas from one another and that there is no shame in replicating a successful initiative in your community.

The second conference day began with an inspiring session about Fayetteville. Rebecca Jackson explained that to be high-performing, an organization must collaborate and break down silos by engaging with employees and citizens alike. Listening to customers is a behavior that all high-performing organizations have in common. By knowing what your community values, you can create a strategic plan that serves as your blueprint for successful budgeting. To close the communication loop with the public after the strategic plan is implemented, Fayetteville uses tools like the TracStat scorecard, which aligns performance measures in the organization to Council goals. The scorecard is shown in an open database so that Council and citizens can dive into performance stats and see how the budget aligns with their priorities.

The idea of community priorities informing the strategic planning process continued in the next session, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” Scott Tesh explained that in Winston-Salem, results from the citizen survey are provided to departments about their specific services, and that residents also rank departments’ services by importance. Parks & Recreation services ranked higher than anticipated in the survey, which led staff to reallocate some bond funding to Parks projects. If Council is resistant to strategic planning, it could be helpful to highlight concerns from the community rather than staff — these may be more impactful since they affect electability.

When members of the community participate in the governing process, it is important to lead them by encouraging the heart, as Rick Morse explained. Citizens will be more enthusiastic about participation when their contributions are recognized, they feel appreciated, and values and victories are celebrated. Strong recognition cultures encourage good relationships between management, staff, and the community. This idea emerged most clearly in my favorite session of the conference, “PB Durham: Humanizing the Budget Process.” Community engagement was the key to Durham’s success with participatory budgeting. The “PB Jam” (brainstorming) sessions at recreation centers and festivals, as well as canvassing, met the community where they were and encouraged maximum community participation in PB. Any Durham resident age 13+ could vote on projects, and PB was integrated into the schools’ social studies curriculum. With the online idea collection platform, Andrew Holland and Robin Baker brought technology to the people and used it with or for them if needed.

After the two-month idea collection phase, internal departments used community engagement in the proposal development process. These intensive workshops trained citizens on how to turn their ideas into actionable projects. Although the PB staff provided information and direction, they depended on citizens to push the project ideas forward. Citizens were also encouraged to spread the word about their own project ideas to increase votes. I believe this feature of Durham’s PB process was the most innovative and important to its success. By taking ownership of the projects and the voting, citizens were probably much more engaged in PB than they would be if staff had simply led the process. This recalls the idea of closing the communication loop and moving the community engagement process from informing to collaborating.

Seeing the community engagement theme throughout so many of the conference sessions reinforced the changing nature of the budgeting profession for me. I am excited to see how community engagement will play a role in future budget processes in our local governments, and I can’t wait to play host when the NCLGBA Winter Conference comes to Asheville!