Kelly Blazey, Assistant Director, City of Fayetteville Area Transit

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. We are highlighting NCLGBA members who are an important part to the balance in their communities.

Today we will hear from the City of Fayetteville’s Kelly Blazey.

The City of Fayetteville is approximately 65 miles south of Raleigh, the State capital. The City of Charlotte, a major commercial center, is about 200 miles to the west. The City is located adjacent to Interstate Highway 95, a major north-south corridor that links the City to Washington D.C., Baltimore and New York to the north and to Charleston, Orlando and Miami to the south. State highways also link the City to the beaches along the southeast coast of the State and to the mountains in the west. The City encompasses portions of Fort Bragg Army Post and is adjacent to Pope Army Airfield, which together form one of the largest military complexes in the world. The bases add significantly to the Fayetteville area economy and to the culture of the community.

PWB Blazey City Sign

As an Assistant Director what funding needs are most prevalent as you approach the budget development process for FY 2017?
As with many other Transit agencies, our fleet is aging and funds for replacing these vehicles are limited. As our community continues to grow, so does the need for service. This means more buses, more sidewalks, shelters and benches. In addition to capital needs, we are struggling to find maintain a qualified workforce. We are dealing with a high rate of turnover as new employees find better paying jobs. Longevity within our department is declining significantly. This is difficult to address during the budget development process. Across the board pay changes don’t occur at the department level. An increase to bus operator pay would result in an increase in pay for most of the department to avoid salary compression issues.

What drew you to a career in public service?
My grandfather was the Assessor in the town that I grew up in. He was also very involved in local community groups and clubs. I didn’t purposely set out on this path, but I think that it was my grandfather’s influence that eventually drew me to it.

PWB Blazey City Hall

What career advice do you wish someone would have shared with you when you started your first local government budgeting job?
• You will make mistakes. 99.99% of them can be fixed!
• No matter what they tell you in the interview, there are going to be late nights and weekends every spring. Don’t plan on taking any vacation time between January and May!
• If you are planning on a career in local government, the budget office is a great place to start. You have a chance to learn about every department, work with department directors, city managers and city council, and get a great overview of the inner-workings of the city. This can be a great stepping stone to other departments, or city management in general.

What excites you most about what you have been working on during FY 2016 in your community and your department?
By the end of FY16, Transit will be very close to completing construction of our multi-modal FAST Center. This project has been in process for over 10 years! The center will be more convenient and feature customer-friendly amenities and a LEED Silver minimum green design. The building will be energy efficient, allow for water collection and reuse, and will include a previous pavement design outside.

PWB Blazey Portrait 1

If you didn’t work in budgeting, what would you do?
If I could pick any job, I would probably do something completely different, like run a small farm or open an event planning business!

Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
I grew up in rural Upstate NY. I know how to tell the difference between field corn and sweet corn, stack a pile of firewood, drive in snow and ice at 60 mph, operate a one-ton dump truck, and back up a trailer perfectly straight! On top of that I grew up flying with my Dad and still do every chance I get.

PWB Blazey Portrait 2