Garland new county manager
Graham County Finance Officer Rebecca “Becky” Garland, who served four administrators in seven years, was named county manager Tuesday by the Board of County Commissioners.
“We need a county manager that stays longer,” said Garland, who managed county finances for Lynn Cody, Mickey Duvall, Greg Cable and most recently, Mike Edwards.
“I’ve learned from every county manager that came before. Every county manager I’ve worked with has offered something positive,” Garland remarked.
Now it’s her turn to lead.
“I hope we can create a vision for the county that will support a more sustainable future,” Garland said. “I look forward to working with the board to create a vision.”
The feeling appears to be mutual.
“One of the county commissioners encouraged me to apply for the job,” Garland said. “When they sat down and talked about it they were all very supportive.”
The support is understandable. Garland resuscitated the sickly budget she inherited. The county’s General Fund balance has swelled from $1,167,000 to $8,400,000 since July 2009 and the county budget has shown a surplus every year since June 2010.
Last year, the county purchased the P& J Building with $1.5 million in General Fund surplus dollars.
Graham County’s new manager will continue to serve as finance officer for the foresable future.
The learning curve will be more a merge lane than a hairpin turn. Garland has been performing some county manager duties for years.
State statutes call for county administrators to: prepare an annual budget, serve as budget officer, and do financial reporting to county commissioners. Garland already does all three duties. In fact, she’s done the last six budgets.
“The finance director 30 years experience in finance and accounting, is well versed in supervising accounting/internal control systems of county government, overseeing compliance with North Carolina General Statutes in area of expenditures, payroll, budgetary control and debt service.
Garland’s duties as finance officer also included: developing the employee pay plan, assisting the county manager in strategic planning, completing an annual audit, and planning and coordinating complex financing arrangements, including grants.
Garland is confident the administrative staff is ready and able to help her handle the additional responsibilities that come with being county manager.,
“Our staff is terrific,” Garland says.
Garland, who obtained a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Western Carolina University (4.0 GPA while working full-time) in 2016, says improved communication is at the top of her to-do list.
“I want to create better communication channels within the county,” Garland said. “Our department heads are really, really good but we kind of lost communication between departments. And I want department managers giving reports to the board and doing workshops.”
Improved external communication is also one of her goals.
“I want the public to really see what we’re doing and what challenges we face. I want to get the public more involved with focus groups and meetings. I want to ask how the county can be more representative of their needs.”
ν CFO, West Contracting 1993-’96
ν Rebecca Garland, CPA1996-2009
ν Master’s Degree, Public Administration
ν Bachelor’s Degree, Business Administration
ν NC Treasurer’s Award Financial Excellence
ν NC Manager Assoc. Scholarship Award