Service Spotlight: Local Government Consulting

Peter Stephenson served more than 30 years in local government and now has nearly five years as VRSA’s local government specialist to his name.

As VRSA’s local government specialist, Stephenson works with members to assist them in identifying and responding to changes faced by local governments. He has also worked closely with local and regional government organizations and associations, including the Virginia Local Government Management Association, of which he is a Past President, as well as the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.

Over the past three years, Stephenson has provided nearly 200 consultations to members, on a variety of issues from brief governance questions to in-person staff training and retreats with elected and appointed officials.

“Working at VRSA for our members has been a perfect fit with my career experiences and continued interest in local government here in Virginia,” said Stephenson.

Stephenson also attends regional planning district commission meetings and is active with organizations such as the Virginia Local Government Management Association, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Virginia Municipal League, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions, the Virginia Local Government Finance Network, and the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association.

He has also championed continuing education for local government managers through his work at VRSA.

For example, each year the VRSA Members’ Supervisory Boards allocates funds to the Risk Management Grant program as a part of our risk management services. A portion of these funds are allocated toward supporting professional management, leadership, and governance expended to further help members in managing their risks.

Since 2020, VRSA has provided more than $60,0000 in Risk Management Grant funding to members to provide for continuing education and training. Recipients have used these grants to attend programs such as the Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management at Virginia Tech, to attend the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service’s Leading, Educating, and Developing (LEAD) program, the Senior Executive Institute (SE), and to take part in the Virginia Women’s Municipal Leadership Institute, and more.

“Supporting quality professional and personal development of our next generation of local government leaders is critical in promoting good governance for the future,” said Stephenson. “Many of our members are new to the world of local government.”

As local governments face new and emerging challenges, Stephenson has been there to provide guidance. He has written articles on the regulations surrounding electric scooters, on autonomous vehicles, on potential revenue risks, on ethics in government, and more.

He’s also provided personalized consultation in areas such as council-manager relations, compliance, budgeting, strategic planning, land use issues, training for appointed officials, and more.

Stephenson previously served for more than 10 years on the VRSA Members’ Supervisory Board, and as manager for the Town of Smithfield for more than 20 years.

“Peter understands how the protections and services provided by VRSA can impact our members,” said  VRSA Managing Director Marcus Hensel. “Having served on the board and as a town manager, he sees how we try to do things the right way and that’s what we are doing – the VRSA difference.”

Services provided to members through include:

  • Identifying emerging risks and challenges in local government finance, budgeting, and compliance
  • Leadership consulting:
    • Council/manager governance
    • Community relationship management
    • Ethics
    • Strategic planning
    • Effective service delivery
For more information on VRSA’s Local Government Consulting program, contact your member services representative.