#NCLGBA21 Recap Series: A Joy to Come Back Together

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2021 Summer Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our first #NCLGBA21 Conference Recap comes from Kimberly Leonard, Budget Manager at Pender County.

July 21st, I was excited to return to the first in person NCLGBA conference since December 2019. Although the NCLGBA conferences seem to always exhibit a lot of Board generated enthusiasm; this year, you could feel an elevated level of energy erupting from the 157 registered participants, who appeared delighted to have direct contact with fellow budgeteers.

Many of us returned knowing our revenue projections for the last two years had larger variances to actual than any time in our county’s recorded past because of unknown COVID impacts. Soon after the  conference began, these variances were put into perspective and our self-confidence began to return as one of the larger counties reported a 69% variance in their sales tax projections. This was followed by economist Dr. Adam Jones confessing his previous economic projections had been off target due to the unknowns accompanying our first large pandemic. Due to the continuing unknowns, Dr. Jones provided us with a lot of information to assist in developing our own economic projections, including reasons for the previous economic assumption variances.

The economic update session was followed by numerous educational opportunities, from technical sessions, such as recommendations for your ARP and CARES funding, performance culture, problem solving, data presentations and diversity; to sessions on professional relationships, including relationships with elected officials and careers in budgeting, and  even personal sessions, such as personal financial health impacts on personal health and desk yoga. A few of my biggest takeaways from these sessions were:

  • Employees’ personal financial issues may be costing my county an estimated $2,250,000 in lost productivity.
  • Measuring our County’s budget expenditure percentages by county objective versus by department would help merge our perception with reality. In addition, it would aid in creating a county wide perspective within departments.
  • You should establish a method for personal development for your employees before they are ever hired, to aid in employee retention.
  • When working with your County Commissioners always recognize their time limitations and give them bullet points. Provide information in small pieces over a period of time.

Although we learned a lot from the seminars, we also learned a significant amount from interacting with other participants. The reception Wednesday night not only provided a great social opportunity, but was accompanied with great food and drinks, such as a grits and shrimp bar, cupcakes, crab cakes, and fried pimento cheese. In addition to making great connections and obtaining productive suggestions for a few budgeting obstacles, I also obtained a list of great sightseeing ideas for my Asheville vacation in November. The comraderies and relationships that we developed will continue to grow in years to come.

As we return to work to implement and utilize a lot of the knowledge obtained from this conference, I hope everyone who worked to make this event such a great success realizes the impact of their efforts. Thank you to all who contributed to the success.