Multiple Roles Please Brunswick
THE BRUNSWmcfeKACON D
WEDNESDAY. NOVEMBER 27, 1991 [ ^
County's Finance Officer
II Y TKRRY POPK
ilhia Hahn manages a $40 million a
year business wiih a watchful eye,
lor the money she invests and uses to
pay Ihc hills belongs to county taxpayers.
The Brunswick County finance director
was recently picked as president of the N.C.
Association of County Finance Officers.
She was pleased to add to her growing list
of roles, ixnh on the job and outside of the
office ? accountant, associalional leader and
She will serve a one-year term, which has
the Holdcn Beach resident plotting ways to
let the public know more about the associa
At her alma mater, Wingate College, ac
counting and public administration students
were often stereotyped by others as the
"class nerds," she said, forever keeping
their noses in stock market reports or
But during association meetings these
days, she jokes with colleagues about that
"nerd" label and insists members arc a well
rounded group of individuals. While serv
ing as secretary of the association in 1989,
Ms. Hahn convinced the group to hold its
slate fall conference in Brunswick County.
While here, they met Cathy Carlisle al a
friendly oyster roast and sat amazed as the
state oyster shucking champion demonstrat
ed her unique skill. Members cruised along
the waterway at Calabash and fell in love
with the coastal community.
"They want 10 conic back," said Ms.
The "they" arc the 100 North Carolina
county financc officers, their assistants and
Council of Governments finance officers
who make up the association and its affili
Though formed in 1942, Ms. Hahn be
lieves the association needs to become a lit
tle more visible. She plans to appoint a
newsletter committee that can spread the
word about the group she joined in 1972.
The association has a certification pro
gram for financc officers and informs mem
bers of new financial laws through regular
workshops. It also has a legislative commit
tee to assist the N.C. Association of County
Commissioners, which lobbies legislators
on financial matters. Financc officers stay
out of the actual lobbying game, she said.
Members also give an annual scholarship
to a UNC-Chapcl Hill master's degree stu
dent in public admini stration. It's namci' al
ter UNC alumnus Howard Holly, a longtime
Pender County finance officer who died in
" Basically , we're a rural county trying to provide urban services .
Its not free. It cant be free." -Finance Director Lithia Hahn
LITHIA H ANN'S office manages a $40 million a year business? Brunswick County go\7rnm7nL?n
Before she was hired by Brunswick
County in 1986, Ms. Hahn served lour
years as assistant finance officer of Stanley
County. Today, she and her staff of six em
ployees are responsible for Brunswick
County's payroll, paying die bills for all of
county government, assisting with an annu
al independent audit and compiling the
county's yearly budget.
Ms Hahn speaks with 20 years of experi
ence in finance.
"It's a big business," she acknowledges.
"When 1 see the stacks of bills that come in
to this office, I often wonder how we are
able to do all of the paperwork."
If the financing of capital improvement
projects for water expansion is added to the
county budget, it comes close to being a
S60 million a year business.
"Basically, we're a rural county trying to
provide urban services," she adds. "It's not
free. It can't be free."
Because of state budget shortfalls and
cutbacks this spring, it was a particularly
lough budget preparation period for many
association members, including Ms. Hahn.
Twenty counties had to adopt interim bud
gets bccausc of the uncertainty of receiving
Ms. Hahn hopes that uncertainty is a
thing of the past, that legislators will let
counties know early in the game what funds
arc available to make the county finance of
ficers' jobs easier around budget time in
"Thai's been our focus more ihan any
thing In the last six or seven years," she
said. "This pasi year, it was particularly
Preparing a county budget, said Ms
Hahn, takes months.
"! love doing budgets," she said. "What
people don't understand is that it's a very
long process. Each budget ties in to the next
budget. When there's so much uncertainty
out there, you don't know where you're
Those who work with figures often try to
see the larger picture behind the data, what
it might mean about the local or national
economy, the banking industry or strength
of the stock market.
"I love doing financial statements, ana
lyzing financial data, doing graphs, to see
what kind of impact they may haye," said
According to her advice, it is a perfect
time to borrow money, although the econo
my is rather sluggish.
"I think next year is w hen we're going to
see the changes," she added, "late next year
to early spring. Hopefully, by the fall of
next year, things arc going to pick up to off
set this downward trend."
For Brunswick County now, her worry
now is projected revenues for the 1992-93
"When you see the economy and the fi
nancial side of the economy slipping a little
bit, you get tense," Ms Hahn said.
Outside of the office, though, people
rarely ask her about the county budget or fi
nances, she said. It helps her leave the job
behind and to concentrate instead on relax
ing at her Holden Beach condominium, tak
ing walks along the beach and rearing her
The two worlds aren't entirely separate.
In her office are photographs of Leslie, 13,
who will celebrate her 14th birthday
Already Leslie's talking about owning a
car, says her mother. But Ms. Hahn views
the situation as an opportunity to teach a
teen-ager a lesson or two about financial re
Financc officer, mother, associational
leader ? multiple roles keep Lithia Hahn
busy, with no regrets.
When her one-year term as association
president expires next fall, a new president
will be chosen, but as past president she
will serve another year on the executive
Meanwhile, during her tenure she hopes
the public will gain a better understanding
ol the associauon and the difficult job faced
by finance officers.
It's Turkey Time
We've saved you a place at our
Thanksgiving table. Join us for a
traditional holiday feast with all
OCEAN ISLE CAUSEWAY ^
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Michael W. Wilkerson, MD
Gary D. Ross, MD
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emphasis in Pediatrics
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Town of Holden Beach
The Town of Holden Beach will be honoring
Raymond Simpson, Chief of Police, with a
Retirement Party on Wednesday, December 11,
1991, at 4:00 P.M.
ALL RESIDENTS OF HOLDEN BEACH ARE INVITED.
(Please bring a covered dish).
Includes fish, shrimp, deviled crab, clam
strips, French fries, cole slaw and hush
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SANDWICH PLATES ? SALADS
SUNDAY LUNCH BUFFET 11:30-2 P.M.
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I >\W. 1 3Q EAST ? SHALLOTTE ? 754-816K '?