Building Budget Champions: Budgeting Tips for Good and Tough Times

As part of the Centralina Learns local government training series, Centralina Regional Council partnered with the UNC Charlotte MPA Public Management Academy to give a sample of what they have to offer participants. The webinar, Building Budget Champions, pulled information from the Academy’s The Power of Data for Managers session, which features budget and resource strategies.

Professor Jim Douglas provided best practices on how to advocate for and secure resources in a competitive environment. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss and learn from each other in break-out groups. This component was particularly interesting as the registrant list consisted of a broad spectrum of local government professionals from elected officials to departmental supervisors and managers to budgeting staff from all over the state.

Members can access the session recording from the Professional Development tab of the Member Portal, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • First and foremost, learn the budgeting culture from your jurisdiction to know which techniques are acceptable.
  • When budgeting during good times:
    • Ask for what you can justify
    • Paint your projects as solutions to problems
    • Show that it will save money in the long run
    • Build “fat” (a financial cushion) 
  • When budgeting during tough times:
    • Ration resources and maintain service levels without becoming less efficient
    • Protect core resources by putting off other types of expenses
  • Some of the same strategies can be used in both good and tough times:
    • Use technical expert testimony
    • Pursue alternative revenue sources

Learn more about the MPA Public Management Academy

Program Director, Tom Barth introduced the Academy as a great way to learn about and discuss the joys and challenges of management in the government and nonprofit sectors. Participants not only hear concepts and tools for success from MPA faculty, but also engage with panels of local managers with years of experience and insights on key topics such as strategic planning, human resource management and program evaluation. Small group exercises are also used to ensure sharing of knowledge and experience from each other.

Spring Program Dates:

Friday, April 9, 2021 – Setting Goals and Achieving Outcomes        

Friday, April 23, 2021 – The Power of Data for Managers         

Friday, May 21, 2021 – Leading and Managing in Government and Nonprofits

Visit the UNC Charlotte MPA Public Management Academy to register for the upcoming spring program or contact Tom Barth for further information.

Written by: Lauren Tayara