Lots has happened since my last blog post. So let me fill you in. I attended a NC League of Municipalities meeting, spent countless hours in the Finance department, and learned all about stormwater, sewer, buildings, and streets from the Public Works department. All of which made my final week with the Town of Zebulon an interesting one. I’ll start from the beginning.
As I mentioned, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a League meeting during my time shadowing Mayor Robert Matheny, who serves as the 1st Vice President, and incoming President, of the NCLM Board of Directors. Not only did I learn a lot of information about what the League does on a regular basis and how it functions, but I also was able to meet some neat people along the way including those involved with public affairs, risk management services, and the North Carolina General Assembly. I was able to take in valuable observations about the importance of understanding, as a manager, the mayoral perspective – which I think will be useful to me in the future.
Other topics I learned about this week are payroll, general ledgers, and balance sheets. Yes, my friends – it’s time to talk about the Finance dept. I’ll start off by saying this – Finance is detail oriented. You have to pay close attention. And you need to have some knowledge about every department because as a part of the staff, and even moreso as the director, you have to interact with every department. There’s the big picture takeaway. Now let me tell you about some of the more technical things I came away with. I learned about Powell Bill funds, money granted to municipalities by the state for the construction and improvement of roadways and related activities. I learned about the complex relationship that Zebulon, and practically all of Eastern Wake County, has with the City of Raleigh due to a merger of certain utilities like water. I learned about how to prepare for state auditors, tabulate bids for new equipment, and – strangely enough – map out cemetery plots.
After my time in Finance, I tagged along with several superintendents of the Town’s Public Works department. And with these guys, I was able to do some pretty awesome stuff. Not only did they teach me about the public works essentials, but I got to do things like explore the basement of Town Hall. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like something to be excited about but remember the original function for the building was a schoolhouse dating back to the early 1900s. As I walked and crawled underneath the floors I have worked above the last three months, I learned that the basement had been used over the years as a cafeteria and library. Pillars under the building have chipped color paint of yellow, pink, and blue. The furnaces that used to heat the building are still intact – out of use of course. I was told recollections about the renovation of the building, like the discovery of coal, who knows how old, hidden behind a wall that now serves as the elevator shaft. For a history nerd like me, this experience was a dream.
The Five P’s of Public Works:
Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
-Public Works Director Chris Ray
I came to understand the heavy responsibility of public works. The phrase “Public Works Always There” is really true. I learned this quickly when I helped test sprinkler systems in case of a fire, backup generators, elevator safety, reclaimed water control, flood prevention, certificate of occupancy inspections, and more. Did you realize that if a sewer line passes inspection when it shouldn’t it could create a future sinkhole?!
From these experiences, and from my experiences throughout my time with the Town of Zebulon, I have learned more than I thought possible. I opened these blog posts in May by saying that I expected to gain a “flood of knowledge” this summer.
Well folks, I’m underwater. I’m flooded. The staff and the community of Zebulon are awesome, and I hope that I have been able to bring to them what they have given to me. I’m sad that my time has come to an end, but in the words of my favorite novel: “I won’t think of it now. I’ll think of it tomorrow. I can stand it then. After all, tomorrow is another day.”