Conference Highlights – 2016 Winter Opening Sessions

Leading up to Budget Conferences there are always a couple sessions I circle with excitement. This year is no exception, with the first few sessions representing the middle of the Cubs batting order.

Charlotte’s very own, Hyong Yi will welcome us to the Queen City challenging us to love our community well. Professor Brian Williams, from UGA, will present and lead us through a timely workshop focused on his research related to local law enforcement, and public governance, looking at how the experiences and perceptions of individuals affect the formation and functioning of working partnerships between local law enforcement departments and community residents. Check out his research interests below:

  • Co-production of public safety and public order
  • Community policing efforts within racial and ethnic communities
  • Community-oriented governance
  • The impact of personal and professional life experiences on the actions and inaction of public administrators

See you in December

Josh Edwards,
NCLGBA President

2016 Summer Conference Highlight: Ashley C. Qualls

Ashley C. Qualls is a Budget Analyst with the City of Asheville.  She is also the recipient of one of NCLGBA’s two scholarships to the 2016 Summer Conference.  These are her conference highlights.

I greatly enjoyed attending the 2016 NCLGBA Summer Conference in Wrightsville Beach as a scholarship recipient. The Conference had a variety of fun and informative sessions on how budget professionals can make positive impacts on their organization. The two general sessions by UNC School of Government professor Dr. Willow Jacobson (Shared Vision) and Cleveland County Manager Jeff Richardson (Growing Leadership Capacity) were two of my favorite sessions. Leadership development is a topic that has always interested me personally and academically, and the general sessions demonstrated ways budget professionals can be leaders in their organization regardless of their (at times unclear) position in the organizational hierarchy. The general sessions were also very interactive and gave me an opportunity to discuss the topics with other attendees.

Jeff Richardson, Cleveland County Manager | Dr. Willow Jacobson, UNC School of Government

Local government has a reputation for being a profession resistant to change, stuck in “the way we’ve always done it.” Through this conference and other networking opportunities, the people working in budget have always stood out as constantly looking for ways to improve themselves, their organization, and their communities. Regardless of their formal title or level of authority, they show leadership in their work ethic, initiative, ability to collaborate, and willingness to approach a problem in new ways. “Budget people” are rarely doing only budget work. They bring a variety of skills to the table, and they hold themselves to the highest standard. I look forward to more opportunities to learn from and with my fellow budgeteers.

Conference Highlight & Project Opportunity with Duke University & Center for Advanced Hindsight

Mariel Beasley, Center for Advanced Hindsight
Ryan Smith, Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

We had a great time presenting to NCLGBA at the Summer Conference (). We wanted to follow up on our offer that we shared at the conference:

The Sanford School of Public Policy and the Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH) are excited to announce the second year of our new program in Behavioral Economics for Local Government. In the program’s inaugural year, we worked with North Carolina local governments on thirteen projects (listed below).

We are repeating the program again this year, and have a handful of slots open for new projects. If you are interested in using behavioral insights to develop innovative solutions to challenges your local government faces, please follow the link below to submit a project application. Applications are due by next Monday, August 28th.

Project Proposal Application:

Each project team will consist of two masters level students (predominantly Public Policy Students) and a researcher from Duke’s Center for Advanced Hindsight. All projects will be overseen by Mariel Beasley, Director of the Common Cents Lab at CAH, and Ryan Smith, Sr. Director of Innovation at Sanford.

While we will be able to select only a handful of proposals, we are planning to roll out other opportunities later this fall that will allow us to work with more local governments across NC. We look forward to sharing more with you soon.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss potential project ideas before submitting, please contact Mariel Beasley and me or call Mariel at 919-949-9159.

Ryan Smith:; Mariel Beasley



City Challenge
1 Fayetteville How can we increase compliance with waste collection (not leaving carts out, putting garbage in the cart)?
2 Wake County How can we increase the number of students participating in the free breakfast program (all students are eligible)?
3 Knightdale How can we reduce speeding within residential subdivisions?
4 Hillsborough How can we increase overall individual health to increase productivity and lower healthcare costs?
5 Zebulon How can we increase participation in the Citizen’s Academy and other local events?
6 Wake Forest How can we increase the number of households using pay-as-you-go electricity meters?
7 Catawba County How can we increase response rates for community engagement surveys (e.g. community health surveys, strategic plans, etc.)?
8 Southern Pines How can we increase the number of households that recycle?
9 Durham City How can we increase daily attendance (particularly of older teens) in teen center programming?
10 Rocky Mount How can we increase participation in and improve the effectiveness of the employee wellness program?
11 Wake County How can we increase the number of Medicare and food stamp applicants turning in required materials within a reasonable timeframe?
12 Durham City How can we increase the number of households that enroll in matching Child Savings Accounts?
13 Wake Forest How can we increase minority participation in local town events?


Ryan and Mariel

2016 Summer Conference Recap

I want to extend a HUGE thank you on behalf of the NCLGBA Board to those who attended last week’s 2016 NCLGBA Summer Conference at the Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC. We had over 150 attendees join us for 3 days of professional development, networking, and catching up with friends and colleagues from around the state. I hope everyone enjoyed their time at conference as much as I did.

2016 Summer Recap 1+2

Before I provide a brief recap, I want to once again thank our sponsors for their contributions to making conference a success. Thank you Cigna, Tyler Technologies, Local Government Federal Credit Union, MGT of America, and Davenport & Company. Your support is much appreciated!

Mayor Bill Blair of Wrightsville Beach welcomed the attendees on Wednesday afternoon and we were off and running. Things kicked off with a session on shared vision from Dr. Willow Jacobson from the UNC School of Government. Having had the privilege of seeing her speak before, I was ecstatic that we were able to have her open up the conference. In pure Willow Jacobson fashion, we were writing issues we are currently facing on paper plates and trying to rank values from a top 10 to a top 5 down to a top 3. Cutting down those rankings was a challenge in itself.

Following a delightful snack including ice cream sandwiches, we continued the discussion on shared vision before splitting between cities and counties for the respective legislative updates. I can’t speak for the county update, but Chris Nida from the North Carolina League of Municipalities did a great job explaining the legislation that passed and issues that came up during the General Assembly session that could impact municipalities. Chris also provided information on legislation that didn’t pass. I always appreciate this as it’s always a possibility to return in future legislative sessions.

2016 Summer Recap 3

The day concluded with a light reception and attendees got to put those drink tickets to use. After running short on food last year, as your conference co-chair, I was sure to not let that happen again. It was great to catch up with folks and meet some of the first-time attendees.

Thursday started with a continental breakfast and absolutely delicious omelet station to fuel up for the day. Cleveland County Manager Jeff Richardson started the day with a dynamic, interesting, energetic session on growing your leadership capacity as a local government professional. We don’t have to have manager in our titles to be leaders in our organizations and communities. Looking at the evaluations, it seems many want Mr. Richardson to come to every conference! We also heard about hiring and retaining employees in the public sector, as well as a little about the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) organization from Kirsten Wyatt, Kent Wyatt, and Ben Kittelson. Work culture is changing and government has changes it can make to attract those to its profession.

Following the general sessions came the concurrent session portion of the agenda. I heard from several attendees how it was difficult to choose which session to attend which speaks to the strength, in my opinion, of the program and the great work done by the Planning Committee. Dr. Bill Rivenbark’s session on landing the best and brightest was timed perfectly as we have a vacancy coming up in Winston-Salem. Great to hear what others are doing and if there are things we can do to make our organization more attractive to future budget professionals and of course, future budget conference attendees.

2016 Summer Recap 4

We wrapped things up on Friday with a full breakfast and then learned about the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina from their CEO, Chris Chung. Chris provided some background on the work of the organization and then answered questions. While not a direct budget area, economic development definitely plays an important role in our communities and who doesn’t love that property tax growth it brings! We concluded the program with the economic update from Dr. Michael Walden. Dr. Walden provided a solid update on the national and more importantly to us, the local North Carolina economy. Hearing the “economic thrillers” he’s written with his wife like Fiscal Fiasco and Macro Mayhem got me wondering what type of “budget thrillers” budget professionals could write and title. So far all I’ve got are Interim Budget Insanity, Performance Management Pandemonium, and Capital Improvement Plan Catastrophe. They’re a work in progress though.

It was a great time at conference and again, thank you to our sponsors, attendees, and speakers. Speaker presentations can be found here:

Our next conference will be held on December 7th through December 9th at the Omni Hotel in Charlotte, NC. Be on the lookout for announcements about the Planning Committee meeting on the NCLGBA listserv, as well as conference registration information later this fall.

Stephen Hawryluk
NCLGBA 2nd Vice President

2016 Summer Scholarship Winners

The mission of NCLGBA is to Promote the budgeting profession through education, networking, and advocacy.  Our conferences are how we live out our mission.  At every conference we aim to award two scholarships to an active Master’s level student or someone who has never attended a NCLGBA conference.  Before the conference we want to introduce you to our two 2016 Summer Scholarship winners so you can learn a little bit about them.  Make sure to introduce yourself at the conference!!

Congratulations to Ashley Qualls and Chris McMillan!

Ashley Qualls is a Budget Analyst at the City of Asheville.

2016 Summer Scholarship Winners Qualls Portrait

Why were you interested in the NCLGBA Conference Scholarship?

The Conference Scholarship is a great opportunity for students and first-time attendees to get all the benefits of a state conference at a reduced cost to themselves and/or their organizations. As a former ICMA/NCACC Local Government Management Fellow, I was fortunate to be able to attend several conferences and other events as part of the program. This was invaluable to my professional and personal development during my first year in local government. Conferences can be financially burdensome for students and organizations, so anything we can do to make them more accessible makes for a better event. I would encourage anyone new to the profession to take advantage of scholarships, student registration rates, and other benefits offered to them.

What drew you to a career in public service?

As far back as I can remember, I have always felt a calling to public service. I was very active in Air Force JROTC in high school, and it had a huge impact on me. I learned so many valuable skills and lessons that I still apply to just about everything I do. As I got older, I realized that there are so many ways to serve your community, your country, and the world.

2016 Summer Scholarship Winners Asheville ShindigShindig on the Green

If you didn’t work in local government where would you be working?

Overseas for a federal agency or non-profit.

What is one session you are looking forward to attending at the conference and why?

The #13percent session on employee hiring and retention. I am a huge fan of the ELGL team and I appreciate their work in creating a space where we can have real conversations about women and people of color in local government. As a professional, my goal is to be the best and do the best. But can I reach my full potential if I’m not also working with the best? Can organizations reach their full potential if they aren’t employing the best? Embracing and supporting diversity in our workforce is mandatory for attracting top talent to the profession. We just have to do it.


Chris McMillan is a Senior Corporate Performance Analyst at the City of Fayetteville.

2016 Summer Scholarship Winners McMillan Portrait

Why were you interested in the NCLGBA Conference Scholarship?

My position at the City of Fayetteville involves collecting and analyzing organizational performance data.  The sessions at the NCLGBA conference speak directly to my job function.  I saw the conference scholarship as a way to become involved with NCLGBA and to enhance my professional development.

What drew you to a career in public service?

I was looking for a way to contribute to the local community through my work and saw a career in public service as a way to do that.

2016 Summer Scholarship Winners Fayetteville Market HouseFayetteville Market House

If you didn’t work in local government where would you be working?

Probably in education in some capacity.

What is one session you are looking forward to attending at the conference and why?

I’m especially looking forward to the DataHoods session since I’m participating in it.  I hope this is one many others are excited to attend as well.

2016 Summer Session Highlight: ELGL at the Beach

We are one week away from the summer conference and wanted to highlight one of our many exciting sessions, Why #13 Percent Matters, with ELGL-at-the-beach-NCLGBA16!

Why #13 Percent Matters:  Hiring and Retaining Great Employees in the Public Sector
Presenters: Kirsten Wyatt, Executive Director, Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL); Kent Wyatt, Senior Management Analyst, City of Tigard, Oregon; Ben Kittelson, Budget Analyst, Guilford County
Moderator: Rafael Baptista, Durham County

If you think that is good, take a look at the rest of the agenda here, July 13th can’t come soon enough.


2015 Winter Conference Highlight: Danielle Mahoney & “What is Ahead for Us with FutureWork”

The North Carolina Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) is a professional organization of people interested in the exchange of knowledge for individuals concerned with budget and evaluation responsibilities of local government.  

The Association’s main goals are:
• To strengthen communications and provide opportunities for professional growth and development through the exchange of ideas
• To investigate, study, discuss, and recommend improvements in the application of budget and evaluation methods
• To collect, compile, and distribute pertinent information about the administration of budget responsibilities
• To promote, sponsor, or conduct training and education programs through the participation in Association sponsored events and meetings

Conferences offer a variety of sessions that will broaden you thinking about how local government budgeting impacts North Carolina’s communities.  Become a member today and don’t miss the 2016 Summer Conference.

Below is a recap of one of our keynote sessions from the 2015 Winter Conference from Danielle Mahoney, Local Government Management Fellow at Lee County.


One of my favorite sessions from the NCLGBA Winter Conference was What is Ahead for Us with FutureWork, presented by Anita Brown-Graham, Director for the Institute of Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University. The presentation (view here) highlighted technological innovations that will emerge in North Carolina in the coming decades, illustrating a job landscape that will be radically changed from the one we know today.

Ms. Brown-Graham shared data that showed, by one estimate, the state of North Carolina could lose almost half of its existing jobs to technology by the year 2040. We’ve already seen this trend with manufacturing, and additional fields that are susceptible to be lost to automation include telemarketing, auditing, accounting, retail, and customer service. Furthermore, she explained that only three counties account for all of the innovation economy in the state: Mecklenburg, Durham, and Wake. So, what does this mean for local governments and our communities?

Conf Highlight Mahoney 1

I work for a county – Lee County in central NC. Our county manager once told me that the reason he prefers county government to city/town government is that counties take care of people who cannot take care of themselves – children, the elderly, those with disabilities, the disadvantaged, etc. Throughout Ms. Brown-Graham’s presentation, all I could think about was the number of people who will be eventually put out of work if the estimates she spoke of come to fruition. How will local governments take care of those in their communities who cannot work due to increased automation/technological advances? Will new departments be created? What about in counties like Lee, counties who do not make up the 66% of innovation economy in the state? Will these counties experience net out-migration and lose majority of their populations to Wake, Durham, and Mecklenburg? How will this affect growth, infrastructure, workplace housing, jobs, etc.? Ms. Brown-Graham said “there will not be shared prosperity across NC if we do not do something.” She also stated that half the students in colleges today will have careers that include occupations not now in existence. So, what do we do? How do we prepare for something that we do not even fully understand?

Being an early career professional in local government, I certainly do not have the answer. I’m not sure anyone has the answer, at least not right now. But, it’s important to be aware of this data and begin to have conversations with our community leaders. In local government, we want to plan in a safe zone – typically one, three, and five years out. We need to start planning for ten and twenty years out. We need to engage our regional councils of government, as well as our partners in the private and nonprofit sectors in collaboration to begin thinking about these important issues and what we can do now to ensure our communities thrive in the future.

Conf Highlight Mahoney 2

While we may not have the answer, I’ve found that local government professionals are extremely adaptable. If the conversation can at least get started – if we are aware of this impending change and how it may affect our local communities – we will be prepared to adapt accordingly. I hope we see this information presented at more local government conferences, that regional task forces are formed from across the state to address this issue, and that our leaders in local government take charge before it is too late.