Lesley Reder, Budget Analyst, City of Concord

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 Concord’s Lesley Reder.

The City of Concord is a vibrant community that honors heritage and tradition while racing towards the future. Since 1990, the total population of Concord has nearly tripled in size from 30,844 to 87,130 people. In the same time period, the square mileage grew from 23 to 62 miles. The continued growth and expansion of the City is supported by our comprehensive infrastructure and services, all of which help enhance the quality of life for Concord’s residents. Visit www.concordnc.gov to learn more!

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What was the biggest challenge facing your community in the 2017 fiscal year and how did you address it as part of the budget development process?
With the City beginning to grow again, balancing the needs of City departments to handle growth with the realities of available revenues was particularly challenging. After reducing the budget and “doing more with less” for almost a decade, departments had a wide variety of needs. For FY17, the City added 36 new staff and provided funding for six major Parks & Recreation capital projects.

What drew you to a career in public service?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in civics and government. Growing up, my mother used to have me fill out a questionnaire at the end of each school year. One of the questions was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” There were little check boxes for things like “Vet”, “Astronaut”, “Doctor”, “Teacher”, etc. I always selected the only government-related box – “President”, because I knew that was where I wanted to be. My strongest elementary school memory is related to the 1992 election (I was a Perot voter in case you were curious). I was also the incoming freshman at my high school who was most excited about taking Economic, Legal, and Political Systems.

I briefly considered law school after college, but soon realized that I should listen to my inner government-nerd and get an MPA. The MPA led me to budget, which led to me Concord!

What career advice do you wish someone would have shared with you when you started your first local government budgeting job?
Don’t be afraid to speak up when you have something valuable to add to a discussion. You may be the youngest/greenest/newest person in the room, but if you can provide insight on a decision or have additional information, sharing it with your superiors in a respectful way is never a bad thing.

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What excites you most about what you have been working on during FY 2017 in your community and your department?
Growth! I began my career in Concord in June 2007 – barely two weeks before Philip Morris announced the phased closure of its 2.4 million square foot manufacturing plant in Concord. Approximately 2,500 employees were laid-off and the City lost $4 million dollars in revenue (taxes, utility revenues, etc). The recession and its aftermath defined the next eight years of my time in Concord.

The City is aware of more than 800 homes to be built in the near future, with the potential for more many more. Concord Regional Airport has been expanding its reach to commercial air service and is the process of building a new terminal to handle the increased passenger traffic. In FY17, Concord will be adding 36 new positions to bring service levels back to where they need to be, including public safety staff for the new terminal building.

If you didn’t work in budgeting, what would you do?
My husband and I have a long-standing semi-serious joke about quitting our jobs and opening a bagel shop. If we weren’t such terrible morning people, I think we really would do it!

Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
My first job ever was at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. For a few weeks each fall during high school and college, I put on my sturdiest boots, laced up a corset, and spoke in the worst faux-British accent imaginable. My job was officially called “game wench” and I spent my weekends trying to convince people to pay for the chance to hit plastic ‘’froggs” into wooden buckets.

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