Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smart, dedicated people respond to budget crisis

The State of North Carolina is up to its nostrils in an economic crisis. Our legislature is working hard to come up with a state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Yet, a budget is only a plan, a structure that people and organizations use to invest/allocate/spend money.

More specifically, NC is in a cash crunch. A budget without the cash to make it work, gets you nowhere. All agencies of the State of North Carolina are being affected by this cash crunch. This includes the UNC system -- all 17 educational institutions -- of which UNC Charlotte is one.

(For updates on how this crisis is affecting UNC Charlotte, check out

During the last several months, I've had the privilege of participating in UNC Charlotte's Budget Council. I am not a number cruncher -- I'm a communications guy. But the other 15-20 folks on this council are numbers people. They are the ones responsible for managing the money of various divisions and other organizations that comprise UNC Charlotte. And they are an impressive group.

If, perchance, you are one of those who disparage the "government," or one of those who choose to believe that "working for the state" is a cushy, no-pressure gig, I'm here to tell you that the people on this Budget Council are awesome -- smart, proactive, tireless, effective people. They are led by Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Beth Hardin. Next month she'll be among the 25 outstanding women from the Charlotte area honored at the 13th annual Women in Business event presented by the Charlotte Business Journal.

The Budget Council, like all of us, is grappling with the effects of a severe economic challenge. The council often meets twice a week, with some of the members meeting daily to respond to conditions that are changing constantly. Yet the council members remain upbeat and focused on solutions. The work of the Budget Council is grinding work that the team is handling with characteristic 49er qualities: collaboration, improvisation, tenacity and fearlessness. These are fine people doing a great job.

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