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 Henderson County’s Megan Piner Powell.
Henderson County is in the western part of NC, bordering South Carolina. In 2013, its estimated population was 109,000 (with an annual growth rate of 2%) and its FY 16 budget was $122,373,450 with a tax rate of $0.5136. Henderson County has five commissioners elected by districts; the County Manager is Steve Wyatt.
Economic development is strong in Henderson County; since 2012 there has been $217 million dollars invested with a net addition of $628 million dollars in the industrial tax base. In 2014-2015 these investments included Sierra Nevada Brewing, Cane Creek Cycling, Raumedic, Bold Rock Cider and Kyocera Industrial Ceramics. This development has kept Henderson County’s unemployment rate low. The rate was 4.8% in May 2015.
What was the biggest challenge facing your community this fiscal year and how did you address as part of the budget development process?
This year was a reappraisal year for us, and one of our biggest challenges was less than expected growth. We were very lucky in that our county saw some growth, but it was not the growth that had been predicted in the early stages of our revenue forecasting.
What drew you to a career in public service?
My family has a long history of public service, my grandfather was an Alderman for the City of New Bern back in the 1960’s and my aunt was a Health Department Director. When it came time to pick a major at Appalachian, Public Administration seemed like a natural fit.
What skills and lessons have been most important to your development as an analyst?
I think working in two different departments and positions has really helped me in my current job. Having worked in the departments that I am now budgeting for helps me look at an issue from both sides.
How do you create public value for your organization?
I work very hard with departments to properly plan for the year so that we keep ‘emergencies’ to a minimum to keep from spending more tax payer dollars than if the situation had been planned.
What excites you most about FY 2016 in your community and your department?
Henderson County continues to grow along with the rest of WNC, we have had, and continue to have a large focus on economic development. With this focus we have seen our community have a renewed family-centered atmosphere, and I am excited to see the continuation of that atmosphere.
If you didn’t work in budgeting, what would you do?
I can’t imagine doing anything that is not in local government.
Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
When I was in college I was the only person registered with the last name Piner.