Barron S. Monroe II, Catawba 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 Catawba County’s Barron Monroe.

 

Catawba County, located just east of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is a land of scenic beauty, diverse cultures, and thriving industry. Three beautiful lakes are located within its 412 square miles, and the Catawba River winds along its western, northern, and eastern border. Catawba County citizens enjoy a small-town feel with many community-oriented activities and events held throughout the year.

PWB Monroe Murrays MillMurray’s Mill

Catawba County has a population of 155,832 and the median age of residents is 40.1 years, which is about 3 years older than the state and national median age. As of 2013, the county’s median household income was $42,859, which was $3,000 and $9,000 fewer than the state and national median household income. Over half of the county’s population (25 years and older) has had at least some college, while approximately 82 percent of the population has a high school diploma or GED. Apple Inc. is the county’s largest taxpayer. Since arriving in Fiscal Year 2010/11, Apple has added $1 billion in real and personal property and alternative energy systems to the county’s tax base.

 

What was the biggest challenge facing your community this fiscal year and how did you address as part of the budget development process?
The biggest challenge facing Catawba County in Fiscal Year 2015/16 was a loss in property tax revenue ($5.96 million or 5.88%) as a result of property revaluation. We addressed this issue by increasing the property tax rate from $0.53 to $0.575 and making $1.5 million in operating reductions across all departments. This was the first tax increase in seven years and the highest it’s been in at least 30 years. Getting the Board of Commissioners to approve the tax increase was largely due to the County Manager’s ability to provide options (e.g. adopt a revenue neutral rate, make reductions to cover the revenue loss, raise the tax rate and make reductions, etc.) and to message the pros and cons for each option. This was a year-long process but ultimately a beneficial one for Catawba County’s citizens.

What drew you to a career in public service?
Since childhood I, like most citizens, have received innumerable benefits from all levels government. Clean water, paved roads, public education, public safety, and a host of other services government provides (but sometimes taken for granted) make living a lot easier. I value that. Pursuing a career in public service is my way of ensuring that citizens continue to have access to those same benefits.

PWB Monroe Barron Monroe Portrait

What skills and lessons have been most important to your development as an analyst?
My ability to make (and maintain) working relationships with my budget contacts has been the most important skill in my development as an Analyst. Catawba County’s budget process requires an Analyst to not only be proficient technically (e.g. using Excel) but also to be personable and approachable regardless of delivering good or bad news. We view the budget process as a partnership with departments rather than a dictate. As such during my tenure, the Budget Office continues to receive high marks from our department partners in regards to customer service, even in the midst of significant reductions to budgets across the organization.

How do you create public value for your organization?
I create public value by striving to be a positive representation of a local government employee.

PWB Monroe Tom Lundy PortraitTom Lundy, From Intern to County Manager, retiring after 43 years in Catawba

What excites you most about FY 2016 in your community and your department?
The most exciting thing about FY 2016 is that Catawba County’s economic outlook is favorable for the first time since the Great Recession. Commercial development in Hickory is starting to pick up while the Sherrill’s Ford area is starting to experience long-anticipated residential development.

What excites you most about FY 2016 in your community and your department?
The most exciting thing about FY 2016 is that Catawba County’s economic outlook is favorable for the first time since the Great Recession. Commercial development in Hickory is starting to pick up while the Sherrill’s Ford area is starting to experience long-anticipated residential development.

If you didn’t work in budgeting, what would you do?
If I were not in budgeting, I would be working for a defense contractor as Intelligence Analyst.

PWB Monroe Mug 1

Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
I make pottery.

 

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