NCLGBA Visits UNC, App State

This past week, NCLGBA members visited the Master of Public Administration programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University. Margaret Murphy, Senior Budget and Management Services Analyst, Wake County, provided a recap of the presentation at UNC-Chapel Hill:

The presentation focused on what it is like to work in the budget office, using a lot of real examples. We started with an overview of the purposes of a budget, the roles in the budget process, and the structure of budget offices. We described budget’s role as communicating between departments, the manager, and the board, and highlighted that curiosity and wanting to solve problems are attributes of a good budget analyst. We gave a brief overview of the North Carolina context, and services, revenue sources, and expenditures in municipalities and counties.

Aaron describes the budget cycle.

Most of the presentation was describing the budget cycle and the major activities we work on during each phase (using examples from Wake and City of Durham). For the planning phase, we shared examples of budget milestones and calendars and developing and communicating the base budget. For the development phase, we shared information about the requests Wake and Durham receive and the budget role in evaluating these requests. Aaron Brown, Budget and Management Analyst, Wake County, led an exercise where we shared examples of business cases departments submit with budget requests and walked through the initial steps/questions budget staff would ask. For the approval phase, we shared examples of budgeting messaging (recommended budget presentations) and highlighted how data used in business cases is then used in communicating the budget to the board. For the implementation phase, we talked about business plan and other status meetings.

Pat shares about other budget office duties, including budget’s role in strategic planning.

Then we shared examples of other things we do. Pat Madej, Senior Budget and Management Analyst, City of Durham, shared information on Durham’s DSAP meetings, I talked about Wake’s board initiatives and being the staff lead on the Pre-K initiative, Pat discussed Durham’s participatory budgeting and program evaluation approach to budget requests. We then looked at examples of Pat’s analysis on sales tax refunds and my work projecting Wake County’s hospitality tax revenue.

Then we talked about NCLGBA and how much we love it!

NCLGBA presenters Pat, Aaron and Margaret (front) with the UNC-Chapel Hill MPA class.

The following day, Brian Pahle, Assistant City Manager, City of Hendersonville, and Brian Barnett, Deputy County Manager, Pitt County, headed to the mountains to provide a similar budgeting overview to students at Appalachian State.

Every good road trip (and budget presentation) starts with a cup of coffee.


App MPA students engaged in the presentation.


Co-presenter Brian Barnett (right) with professor Dr. Bob Eskridge (left) and MPA student Brad Moody.


Familiar names on the scholarship plaque, including co-presenter Brian Pahle and other NCLGBA members.

Thank you to all of our volunteer presenters for sharing your time with the next generation of local government budget professionals!

NCLGBA campus visits support our Strategic Plan goal to “increase student interest and participation within NCLGBA in order to advocate for the budgeting profession and to help create and foster the next generation of local government leaders.” If you would like us to visit your program, class, or student group, please email us at