Essentials of County Government

The UNC School of Government and NCACC partner to offer this crash course on the essentials of county government, where newly elected commissioners are introduced to the basic functions of county government and the role of the governing board.

The course will be conducted virtually and will explore three themes, one per month. For each theme, participants will be expected to complete 30-60 minutes of pre-work, followed by a three- to four-hour live, interactive session on Zoom. At the conclusion of each session, commissioners will have the opportunity to "ask the expert" to learn more about specific topics of interest.

Registration opens Nov. 4. For more information and to register, visit www.sog.unc.edu/courses/essentials-county-government.

Two tracks are offered in order to maximize opportunities for participation. Sign up for either Track 1 or Track 2. Live session dates and times are as follows:

Track 1
Dec. 11, 2020, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 8, 2021, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Feb. 26, 2021, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Track 2
January 22, 2021, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
February 25, 2021, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
March 23, 2021, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Theme 1: County Government: Roles and Responsibilities. Watch a lively mock board meeting to learn the dos and don’ts of working as a board and transacting business in the public spotlight. Through a series of interactive activities, participants also will learn about the roles and responsibilities of the board and individual board members and will explore the board’s relationship to professional staff. Participants will have the opportunity to build essential communication and relationship-building skills to help you interact more effectively within county government and with the legislature, your constituents, and the media.

Theme 2: Budgets, Fiduciary Duty, & Financial Condition. What are the top 10 financial management principles every county commissioner should know? What are county funding requirements? What should you expect from your first budget process? How does a board carry out its fiduciary duties? The pre-work will present the basics of budgeting and financial management. During the live session, participants will have the opportunity to engage in small group discussions and learn from more experienced commissioners and county staff about how to approach and respond to common financial issues.

Theme 3: Ethics, Conflicts of Interest, and Open Government. The final theme will focus on important limitations on board members and their legal and ethical responsibilities. Commissioners will explore public records and open meetings requirements and learn practical techniques to operate effectively in an open government environment. During the live session, commissioners will also participate in the statutorily-required 2-hour ethics training.