#NCLGBA18 Recap Series: “Take Me Back”

Over the last few weeks, we have featured reflections on the 2018 Winter Conference. 

Our final #NCLGBA18 Conference Recap comes from Brian Pahle, Assistant City Manager, City of Hendersonville.

Winter Conference 2018 at Dugan’s…I mean Pinehurst…Take me Back

It wasn’t long into my four hour drive from the sand hills of eastern NC back to my home in Hendersonville that I dove into a deep mental sabbatical pondering the happenings of the conference and what it means to be a local government professional in North Carolina. These monotonous travels are no stranger to me and have become one of my favorite times to reflect. So, it is no wonder that upon returning home I was well prepared to write a conference recap at the request of our great Marketing Coordinator, Heather Curry! This conference was truly special and as many conferences do, generated a thought-provoking, creative, mind befuddling response from my inner psyche. I left this conference feeling proud, concerned, enlightened, and inspired all at the same time. My reflection below will explain each of these moments.

A Sense of Pride and Hope in our Profession

The best part about these conferences is that I get the opportunity to interact with and learn from people that are much more intelligent than myself. When I first joined the Association in 2014 I did not quite know what to expect. Would it be all technical, would I relate with other members and make friends, or would it be more continuous education similar to the UNC School of Government’s courses? To my pleasant surprise, I stumbled upon an active, dedicated, inspiring, and fun membership that made me feel welcome. These members were sharing ideas, thinking creatively, and strategizing together about how to solve current local issues.

This past conference promised a powerful agenda and a room full of even more powerful speakers…and it DELIVERED! I left this conference feeling extremely proud that I get to interact with such a talented group of individuals. I also, felt a sense of hope that our future local government professionals will continue to improve on the path that has been already forged before us. From sharing the stage with superwoman Heather Drennan and an amazing leader Brian Barnett, to exchanging ideas at Dugan’s on career advancement with Eric Olmedo, and meeting an inspiring and confident young student who is interested in a budget career in Zach Lewis. All of these interactions, plus many more, highlight how diverse, exemplary, and talented our Association members are. The more we have the opportunity to share ideas and demonstrate our own unique strategies and qualities the better. We have a great Association that enables and encourages exactly that and I could not be more proud to be a member.

Concerning Trends – Help!

Something that had everyone in the room nodding was affordable housing and infrastructure needs. I found myself holding my jaw up as Jeff Staudinger rattled off the number of affordable units needed in various cities across our State. As Julie Porter discussed the Charlotte project, I sat silently thinking about our existing undocumented/unregulated 100 year old landfill that is currently playing a role in a brownfield redevelopment for our revival of on old mill building for affordable housing. What left me feeling most concerned was thinking about the infrastructure sitting idly by that is needed to support these housing projects and other critical economic functions of a successful local economy. Dr. Mike Walden highlighted the importance roads are going to play in our economic future, and more importantly where the funding will come from to support their construction. Even moreover is the battle of NIMBY-ism and YIMBY-ism that we are seeing everyday as our community battles with the 8 NCDOT projects proposed over the next 5 years. I sat in my car, feeling concerned about how we are going to address these major issues but also feel that we are up to the challenge.

Seeking Enlightenment – NCLGBA Inquire Within

An additional sense of pride, which also lent itself to enlightening my understanding of the profession, resulted from our discussions on equity, inclusion, gender and race. We are a diverse Association and I do not face the same challenges that others in our profession face on a daily basis. So, these sessions were uncharted territory for myself and I am sure many others. Uncharted, unfamiliar, and unknown are not things that scare me nor are they things that I avoid. Quite the opposite, I was excited to have these sessions on the agenda and felt motivated to explore more avenues for equity and inclusion in my work and daily life. The courage our speakers, members, and Association display by taking on these issues is welcomed and revered. I hope to see these continue as I still have so much to learn from our members and friends. Thank you to all of those who made these sessions possible, and let’s keep them going!

I Live for Happiness, Luckily Work is a Part of That

I took one exception with the “Life is Too Short” session and that is that you should not “live to work”. This is certainly applicable if you do not enjoy your job, or you grow frustrated with showing up to work every day. However, for me, this is not the case. I love my job and I love the community I work in. I could not tell you how many times my wife has had to smack me across the head to get me to shut up about my excitement for new storm drains or traffic lights (maybe there is something wrong the way I think, or maybe it is all the smacking, who knows). Nonetheless, I left this conference again, inspired to make improvements in my life and in my community. With the powers of understanding my amygdala hijack and having the right attitude, “I can do this”, I came back to work with a fresh set of tools, ideas, and motivation to help our community succeed. I hope you did too and cannot wait to see you this summer!

P.S. – Rumor has it that Josh Edwards is leading a session on how to champion a culture of innovation at work at the summer 2019 conference #DurhamiTeamRocks #TheChampsHere

#NCLGBA18 Recap Series: Reflection from a First-Time Attendee

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2018 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our second #NCLGBA18 Conference Recap comes from Dominique Walker, ICMA/NCACC Management Fellow, Bertie County, and 2018 Winter Conference Scholarship Recipient.

The NC Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) Conference exceeded any expectations I had of what the conference experience would be like and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to attend the event in Pinehurst. When I first applied to the Conference Scholarship, I was hesitant because of my lack of experiences working in the budgeting profession. However, I thought that by applying, it would be the perfect opportunity to network with budget analysts, directors, managers, and others in the profession, as well as learn more about budgeting in general. It was refreshing to see many people from my generation in attendance and serving in different capacities across the field. One of the best components from my time at the conference was the networking experience. I had the opportunity to engage with budgeting professionals from across the state and gain better insight about what it means to be a budget analyst and future local government executive. I appreciated their honesty and transparency about the challenges of working as an analyst as well as some of the more rewarding experiences.

I really enjoyed each of the sessions and I unquestionably learned something new from each of the presentations. The most impactful sessions that resonated with me the most were the Leading with Emotional Intelligence, Leading Women-Perspectives in Leadership and Budget, Data Analytics: the Power of BI, and the Policy Equity & Inclusion: Letting History and Community Voices Guide Institutional Choices sessions. Key takeaways that I learned from the Leading with Emotional Intelligence: Why EQ Matters? session was the understanding of emotional intelligence (EQ) and the difference between IQ and EQ. Understanding how EQ relates to the workplace and leadership success was extremely beneficial and I walked away with new resources on how to approach my daily activities.

Additionally, I really appreciated the discussion from the diverse panelists during the Leading Women-Perspectives in Leadership and Budget session. As a young African-American woman pursuing a career in local government, it was inspiring to see these women share their experiences in the field including what they enjoyed best, the complexities and challenges they have faced, and ways they handle stress and work-family balance. It was also uplifting to network with some of the panelists after the session to have one-on-one conversations that were equipped with much-needed career advice. Based on the Data Analytics: the Power of BI session, I have dedicated myself to learning all that I can about Power BI analytics. It is my hope to incorporate the methods used from the Data Analytics and the Policy Equity & Inclusion sessions into my projects in Bertie County to achieve equitable community engagement.

Overall, I had a tremendous experience as a first-time attendee at the NCLGBA Annual Conference and I walked away with more knowledge about the budgeting profession and how to be a more effective community leader within my field. The engagement and excitement from the attendees and the NCLGBA board was undeniable and I am eager in staying engaged with the NCLGBA. I also look forward to bringing more awareness about the budgeting profession and the NCLGBA to the next generation of public administrators.

#NCLGBA18 Recap Series: “This is How We Do It”

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2018 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our second #NCLGBA18 Conference Recap comes from Zach Lewis, MPA Candidate, North Carolina State University and 2018 Winter Conference Scholarship Recipient.

“This is How We Do It” – Key Takeaways from the Winter 2018 NCLGBA Conference from an Aspiring Local Government Leader

As a current first year MPA student looking to begin a career in public budgeting and finance, this was my first formal conference attendance specific to local government. I was incredibly humbled to have been selected as one of the scholarship recipients for the conference and will forever be thankful to those involved in presenting me with his opportunity.

When I arrived at the conference, my initial observation was that there were way more people in attendance than I had anticipated, most of whom were returning conference attendees. However, I was very warmly welcomed and quickly made a part of the NCLGBA family.

Located at the Carolina Inn in Pinehurst, NC, the venue and setting of the conference was beautiful – it was clear that the NCLGBA Board and the conference planning team had worked tirelessly to make this conference happen.

The welcoming environment, the well-planned conference, the “family” atmosphere, and the diversity of conference presentations spoke one thing: North Carolina is an awesome place to work in local government.

Here are 3 of my takeaways from the conference:

1) Innovation is happening in North Carolina local governments.
Unfortunately, one of the common stereotypes discussed regarding public sector employees is that “not much gets done,” or that government workers are “very set in their ways.” However, two of my favorite conference sessions seemingly challenged these claims by presenting innovative ways they are changing their budget processes – Durham County, NC and the City of Durham, NC. In the first session, “Data Analytics: The Power of BI,” presenters demonstrated how their budget offices and other departments are utilizing a new tool, Microsoft Power BI, to greatly improve their data analysis and visualization techniques, moving further ahead than the classic Microsoft Excel and encouraging other local governments to consider it as well.

In the second session, “Policy Equity & Inclusion: Letting History and Community Voices Guide Institutional Choices,” community leaders in the city of Durham discussed how using history to understand present day disparities is vital to creating more equitable futures and to not repeat the same mistakes. In the discussion, the Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of Durham discussed how the city has adopted a participatory budget process for $2.4 million dollars, hosting numerous public input sessions across the entire city so citizens can provide input on how they wish to see the money spent. This is creating an equitable way for citizens of all backgrounds to have the opportunity to provide vital input.

2) Difficult, but necessary conversations are happening at NCLGBA.
Continuing with the same session which discussed participatory budgeting “Policy Equity & Inclusion: Letting History and Community Voices Guide Institutional Choices,” this session urged counties and municipalities that are facing local disparities or equity problems to actively work to holistically understand the problems by utilizing local history to consider “how did we get here?” By embracing these difficult challenges, by engaging in difficult and often uncomfortable conversations, by creating community dialogues, and by providing equal and equitable ways for all citizens to provide public input, local governments across the state can begin creating better futures for all of those represented.

In a separate session, “Leading Women – Perspectives in Leadership and Budget,” female local government leaders discussed the challenges that they face or have faced during their careers working in local government. By creating these dialogues, not only are the issues acknowledged, but they provide the framework and a platform to begin collectively working to combat these problems and begin shaping a more-inclusive, more-equal workplace. This session was closed with a call to action, urging everyone to continue thinking about how to improve, not only when prompted to think about it – “don’t let this session run concurrently, let it run continuously.”

3) Personal growth is paramount to professional growth.
Although this was a “budgeting” conference, not all sessions dealt with budgeting and local government. Rather, two sessions focused on another important area – personal growth, implicitly emphasizing by learning how to grow as a person, we will better grow as a professional.

In the opening conference session, psychologist Heather Lee introduced emotional intelligence (EQ) and illustrated why EQ matters to be a successful leader. Learning ways to become more EQ conscience and improving our EQ skills is arguably more important than IQ in the workplace, and with both of these, we can prepare ourselves for a successful, well-to-do career in public service. Ultimately, “IQ skills get us hired, EQ skills keep us going and moving up the ladder.”

In one of the final conference sessions, Dan Pliszka from the City of Charlotte and author of his new book Life is Great: Even if Your Boat Flips Over helped teach us how to find value and success in all aspects of our life, switching to the adage “work to live” rather than “live to work.” If we shift our focus from “waiting for the weekend so we can finally live,” Dan emphasized that we would lose out on the majority of our life. Rather, we should be “living” each day – finding the joys and pleasures in all that we do and make every day a day that we look forward to.

The Winter 2018 NCLGBA conference was an incredible experience for me, both personally and professionally. The networks created, the sessions attended, the ideas shared, the stories told, and the dialogues created all helped to solidify one thing – my biggest takeaway of all – North Carolina’s local government leaders are some of the best in the nation.

#NCLGBA18 Winter Conference Recap Series

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2018 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our first #NCLGBA18 Conference Recap comes from Taylor Floyd, Senior Budget Analyst, City of Asheville.

After a long, long walk down a hall covered with garland, poinsettias and pictures of golfers, we were greeted by Pinehurst Mayor Nancy Fiorillo. In welcoming conference attendees, she informed us that she had signed a resolution lifting the limit on what we could spend in Pinehurst. I tried to do my part for the local economy during our time in the Sandhills.

“Empathy is the engine of influence”

The conference got started in earnest with a session on emotional intelligence led by Heather Lee of Developmental Associates. Lots of good information in this session focused around how important behaviors and interpersonal skills are in determining the success of individuals, teams and organizations. Heather highlighted that you don’t have to be friends with your coworkers, but you should learn to empathize with them. One comment – that the personal items you have in your office send a message to others about what they engage you on – made me reassess the objects (or lack of objects) I have in my own office. Ironically, one of those objects is the book, Influencer, which Heather recommended. Maybe I should read it before someone tries to engage me on it.

The legislature is still busy

The legislative update reminded me of previous conferences as special sessions have continued late into the year and there’s rumors of interest in sales tax distribution changes. One change coming as part of disaster relief legislation is a new Office of Recovery and Resiliency in the Department of Public Safety. Also, new tier designations from the Department of Commerce were released in November.

Organizational flexibility = Work-life balance

The final general session of the day featured a panel of four women discussing their experiences navigating a career in local government. This session reinforced the earlier discussion of how important empathy can be, as the panelist noted the value of working in supportive, flexible, family-first organizations. I was especially impressed by the flexibility some smaller organizations are able to offer, although it was noted that change on big issues like race and gender can be slow no matter the size. The panel’s thoughts on paid parental leave reminded me of the “curb cut effect” that I’ve learned about through conversations around equity and inclusion. In short, while sidewalk curb cuts are essential to mobility for some of our most vulnerable populations (i.e., disabled persons), they also help parents with strollers, people making deliveries, and travelers with suitcases. As the panel noted, everyone has dependents, so maybe paid parental leave is just the next step towards a better balance for everyone.

“Accounting is just following the rules, there are no rules in budgeting”

Day two started off with John Fishbein from GFOA showing us a lot of dos and don’ts in revenue forecasting and budget document production. He hit us with some solid lines, including my personal favorite, “the purpose of working, I think, is to keep your job.” John also evangelized on one of my dislikes – switching from landscape to portrait in a budget document. Just don’t. One analogy I’m planning to recycle is that “grants are like coupons,” in that you still have to spend money. It might be a good deal, but that’s doesn’t mean you need to buy it.

The experts don’t always agree

Thursday’s general sessions continued after lunch with a discussion of affordable housing. My former Asheville coworker Jeff Staudinger led a lively overview of what exactly the affordable housing crisis looks like in North Carolina and identified a wide variety of tools local governments can utilize to address it. Julie Porter of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership showed us how several of those tools came together in Charlotte’s Brightwalk redevelopment. While the tools are innumerable, my takeaway was that they should be targeted based on the outcomes you want to see in your community. As our speakers noted, building wealth for citizens and ensuring long-term housing affordability can be at odds with each other, and there’s no one right answer when it comes to meeting this critical community need.

The government Rubik’s Cube

The day wrapped with a trio of Durhamites. After an overview of historic discrimination and exclusion from Bull City 150’s Mel Norton, Neighborhood Improvement Services Assistant Director James Davis and Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson gave us organizational and political perspectives on the City of Durham’s efforts to shape a more equitable future. James Davis had the memorable metaphor in this session, telling us about how he solved a Rubik’s Cube with a butter knife. “Sometimes,” James said, “you have to dismantle the system if you can’t fix it within the parameters of the game.”

“You have to have a scoreboard”

Our final day kicked off a much-needed thirty minutes later, as many of us spent the prior night singing our hearts out to karaoke classics. Charlotte’s Dan Pliszka shared some humor and motivational messages from his recently published book, Life is Great, Even When Your Boat Flips Over. His suggestions for how to find success? Have a life goals list written down, but be flexible with it. Add a “to don’t” list to your “to do” list. And finally, apply an “audit T” when you have something in your life that could be better. This will look familiar to you accountants.

Issue/Challenge/Problem Statement

List what is good about it

List what is bad about it

Look at what is on the bad side, and you’ll likely see some actionable steps that can be taken to make things better.

Recession in 2020?

NC State’s Michael Walden wrapped up the conference with an economic outlook. His message was similar to those in past conferences: growth continues to be positive, but this economic expansion is long in the tooth. On the positive side, North Carolina has seen better rural and middle income job growth, expanding the expansion to communities that were hardest hit and slowest to recover from the Great Recession. Some potential problems on the horizon include household and business debt, energy prices, interest rate policy, stock market volatility, the potential for a foreign economic shock, and the ongoing trade war.

Overall it was a fantastic conference with good speakers, great food (pizza!), and the best attendees. Thanks to the conference planners for all their hard work and to the conference sponsors for supporting our organization. Wishing everyone a pain-free budget process, and hope to see you in July!

Announcing the 2018 Winter Conference Scholarship Winners

The NCLGBA Board is pleased to announce two scholarship winners for the 2018 Winter Conference:

Zach Lewis
North Carolina State University MPA Candidate
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zlewis2

Dominique Walker, MPA
ICMA/NCACC Management Fellow, Bertie County
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominique-walker-mpa-a48182ba

Please take some time to welcome and congratulate them at the conference and to connect with them on social media!

Nominations Open for 2018 Vogt Award

Nominations for the 2018 A. John “Jack” Vogt Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Advancement of Local Government Budgeting and Evaluation are now open. This career award is the highest annual award presented by the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) to recognize individuals who have served during their careers as innovators and leaders in advancing budget and/or evaluation practices in North Carolina local government. 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 award page. Completed nomination applications should be submitted via email to vogtaward@nclgba.org by 11:59pm on Friday, November 9, 2018. A committee from the NCLGBA Board will review the submissions and present the award at the 2018 Winter Conference during the Thursday luncheon on December 13th, at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC. If you have any questions about the nomination form or process, please feel free to contact NCLGBA President Stephen Hawryluk at stephenh@cityofws.org or (336) 747-7093. 

North Carolina has a strong, national reputation as a leader in local government budgeting and evaluation. Please 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.

2018 Winter Conference Registration and Scholarship Update

Registration for the 2018 Winter Conference is open. The following links will direct you to online conference registration forms:

Pay by Credit Card

Pay by Check

Please note that every attendee needs to fill out a registration form individually.

After you complete the form, a copy of your registration should be e-mailed to you (check your spam filters).

Important Information for Payment by Check

If you are paying by check, please include the e-mailed registration form with your check when you mail it to our Treasurer, Teresa Fulk, Carteret County Finance, 302 Courthouse Square, Beaufort, NC 28516.

Please e-mail Teresa (teresaf@carteretcountync.gov) or Christopher Williams and Paarth Mehta (conference@nclgba.org) if you have any registration questions or concerns.

 

The 2018 Winter Conference Scholarship application period is also open. The application is available here and is due Friday, November 2, 2018. Submission details are included on the application. Recipients will be notified by Friday, November 16, 2018.

Please help us get the word out to any MPA student(s) and/or first time attendees you may know, and please apply yourself if you haven’t attended a conference before!

Questions regarding the conference scholarship program can be sent to Michelle Daniels (michelle.daniels@raleighnc.gov).

2018 Winter Conference Room Block Now Open

The room block for the 2018 Winter Conference is open at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC!

The conference will be in the Carolina Hotel from December 12-14. The resort has a number of accommodation options available to conference attendees.

Reservations (Booking ID #72704) may be made via:

Use this form to reserve by e-mail, phone, fax, or mail.

Important Information on Deposit and Cancellations

A deposit equal to one night’s cost is due at time of reservation. Cancellations must be received 30 days prior to the hotel stay in order to be refunded the deposit.

Winter 2018 Conference Planning Meeting

On behalf of the NCLGBA Board, we invite you to the Winter 2018 Conference – Planning Meeting on Friday, September 21, 2018!

The objectives are to:

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

Click here to RSVP (yes or no) by Friday, August 24, 2018. 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 minutes from uptown Charlotte between 12pm-4pm at the:

City of Charlotte Fire Department Headquarters
500 Dalton Street
Charlotte, NC 28206

Lunch (including VG, V, GF, etc.) options will be provided from 12pm-1pm. We’ll follow up in a separate e-mail to get specific lunch information.

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 Christopher or Paarth.