SUSAN E. ANDERSON
Anderson lives in Royal Oak and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and accounting from Walsh College. She is an elected trustee for Oakland Community College and serves as treasurer.
ROLE OF TREASURER
The primary responsibilities are: collection of delinquent real property taxes; receipt, custody of, and investment all county monies, including funds received from the townships, villages, cities, and from state and federal agencies; responsible for keeping permanent records of tax rolls and delinquent tax rolls; providing public access to historical tax information; responsible for the processing of the forfeiture/foreclosure properties due to non-payment of property taxes. My experience and skills to successfully represent the people of Oakland County are: I am a graduate of Walsh College with a Master of Science Degree in Accounting and a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information Systems. I am the founder and owner of SE Anderson and Associates, a professional firm providing quality and efficient computerized accounting, bookkeeping and tax services to small and medium sized businesses. I was elected to the Oakland Community College (OCC) Board of Trustees in 2016. With five campuses, it is one of the largest community colleges in Michigan and has the state's third largest undergraduate enrollment. The annual operating budget is approximately $170,000,000. I was appointed treasurer of OCC by my fellow trustees and also serve as chairperson of the audit committee for the college. I currently serve on the board of directors of OUR Credit Union. I am a consultant to numerous non-profit organizations looking to carry out their fiduciary responsibility with respect to accountability and investment oversight of their organizations. I assist organizations in establishing prudent internal control policy, systematically used to prevent misuse and misappropriation of assets, such as occur through theft or embezzlement.
INVESTMENT OUTLOOK FOR COUNTY
These funds are invested in conformance with PA 20 of 1943 and the Oakland County Investment Policy. This investment policy demands three standards for investing: safety of principal, liquidity of investment and return on investment. The Oakland County Investment Policy also restricts the investment portfolio to no more than 15 percent with a single financial institution and no more than 60 percent with a single security type. The novel coronavirus pandemic is not only a public health crisis, but also an economic one impacting local communities such as Oakland County, its communities, the state and the nation. The pandemic is having a massive impact on local government budgets. The state’s stay-at-home orders led to a loss of revenue from sales, occupancy and other taxes, causing the widespread budget shortfalls. Despite the present economic troubles, I believe Oakland County is well-positioned to weather the storm. The county has very strong liquidity, with total government available cash at 125.2 percent of current total governmental fund expenditures and 43.2 times current governmental debt service. As to investments, the investment return over the past three years has continued to exceed the previous year. In addition, the return on investment has exceeded the 30-day Treasury bill rate. This is primarily due to maintaining healthy reserves, as well as a sound investment policy not only for the county but also for its 61 communities as well.
OFFICE STAFFING PLANS
I believe previous treasurers have done an excellent job in representing the people of Oakland County. I am particularly impressed with the foresight of Hugh and Pat Dohany in their implementation of sound investment policies. The treasurer’s office has many qualified and committed personnel, including key staff members. I will assess the needs of the treasurer’s office when elected and certainly will consider key staff members already working for the county, as well as qualified personnel outside the county.
COUNTY BOND RATING
Moody’s March 6, 2020 AAA report indicated “Oakland County's financial condition will remain healthy given management's track record of maintaining strong fund balance and liquidity. The county has posted eight general fund operating surpluses over the past ten audited fiscal years.” Standard & Poor’s March 6, 2020 AAA report indicated: “The 'AAA' rating also reflects our view of Oakland County's very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology; strong budgetary performance, with an operating surplus in the general fund and break-even operating results at the total governmental fund level in fiscal 2018; very strong budgetary flexibility, with a high available fund balance in fiscal 2018 of 104 percent of operating expenditures; very strong liquidity, with total government available cash at 125.2 percent of current total governmental fund expenditures and 43.2x current governmental debt service, and access to external liquidity we consider strong, but an exposure to a non-remote contingent liability risk; strong debt and contingent liability position, with debt service carrying charges at 2.9 perdent of expenditures and net direct debt that is 85 percent of total governmental fund revenue, as well as low overall net debt at less than 3 percent of market value and rapid amortization, with 82% of debt scheduled to be retired in 10 years…” It is clear from the bond rating agencies that sound business practices in running the county as well as sound investment policies are instrumental in maintaining the AAA bond rating. The fact that the return on investment for the county increases each year as well as outperforms the Treasury rate will be key in maintaining the AAA bond rating in the future.
There is always the risk of an increase in tax delinquencies. However, the treasurer’s office provides foreclosure prevention programs, financial opportunities for families and businesses. This information and programs assist county residents on how to build their credit, schedule free financial counseling services, negotiate with lenders and landlords, and obtain unemployment benefits. The current foreclosure policy helps prevent foreclosures through counseling, repayment schedules, and persistence. I would continue these policies and work with our residents to addressing these challenges.
The key issues are: securing our financial future – I would work with the county executive and other; countywide elected officials to insure we maintain prudent fiscal policies; protecting our property values; maintaining Oakland County's AAA bond rating. Maintaining Oakland County's AAA bond rating is paramount in minimizing future interest costs on Oakland County projects as well as local community projects. The financial strength of the county and its communities is greatly impacted by the bond rating.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
As an accountant and business owner, with over 30 years of accounting, tax, financial and investment experience, and treasurer of one of the largest community colleges in Michigan with an annual operating budget of approximately $170,000,000, I would be a dependable and effective administrator of Oakland County funds and resources. I will continually study and monitor county investments and banking functions to achieve maximum efficiency in the Treasurer's office. I will look at ways to improve office functions to provide an even higher level of customer service to the citizens of Oakland County. Everyone is challenged with limited budgets. This is true for individuals as well as government operations. Safety of fiduciary funds is critical especially in a low interest rate environment we are experiencing today. The treasurer’s office collects over 1.4 billion dollars every year, and these funds must be handled responsibly, and by an experienced office holder. I believe I have the experience to successfully manage the treasurer’s office for the people of Oakland County.
Kent resides in Oxford and has an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a masters degree in business from the University of Michigan. He has been involved with several local community groups.
ROLE OF TREASURER
The Oakland County Treasurer is tasked with receiving and safeguarding the nearly $1 billion in property taxes and fees collected by the county. A detailed record is also to be kept of all disbursements. A key function of the treasurer’s office is the collection of taxes deemed uncollectible by local municipalities, and advancing these amounts to the municipalities so as to ensure the continuation of day-to-day local government operations. The treasurer likewise decides if and when to foreclose on and seize properties. My education (University of Michigan MBA), licensing (US Treasury) and 25 years advising hundreds of county businesses and families as an expert in business management and taxation make me ideally suited. I am well known and proven as a highly capable, trusted, and prudent voice who loves Oakland County and is committed to protecting it for future generations.
INVESTMENT OUTLOOK FOR COUNTY
Investments under the Oakland County Treasurer are strictly prescribed to be of the most conservative possible. Specifically, they are limited to bank deposits together with obligations backed by the federal and state government. As such, current economic turmoil is not likely to cause any appreciable change in performance. Regrettably the public has insufficient tools with which to evaluate the performance of these investments. Indeed, the investment reports available through the offices of the current treasurer are especially unhelpful as they show only the allocation of the county’s funds without disclosing performance. Reported yields of employee retirement funds (not managed by the treasurer) serve only to further confuse uninformed observers. This lack of transparency is of great concern to me and calls attention to my future administration’s commitment to providing disclosures that set a national standard for clarity and thoroughness.
OFFICE STAFFING PLANS
I admire the standards and performance of the administration of L. Brooks Patterson. I likewise admire and am deeply proud of his administration’s commitment to providing levels of service that became benchmarks for county governments across the United State. The treasurer’s office is populated by a great many women and men who exemplify these standards. I similarly believe that stability is a hallmark of well-run organizations, especially those dealing with financial matters. I am in communication with current and past Oakland County government personnel so as to be in a position to ensure that taxpayers receive the highest possible caliber of service without disruption.
COUNTY BOND RATING
I stand in firm opposition to tax increases. Oakland County’s AAA bond rating is a central concern. This rating bears directly on borrowing costs for the county. There is in turn a domino effect on local municipalities. If borrowing costs rise, then a case will be made for higher taxes – both at the county and local levels. The county’s past practice of issuing “fiscal notes” to disclose the cost of budget changes was greatly admired by bond rating authorities. Last year the new Democrat majority of Oakland County Commissioners voted to discontinue issuing fiscal notes. I will advocate for their return. It is unacceptable for a curtain to be drawn around the books of Oakland County government. It is similarly unacceptable to expect commissioners to make prudent and informed judgements in the absence of this information.
While I do not expect an increase in tax delinquencies on par with what was experienced during the Great Recession, COVID-19 has caused financial devastation. I commend the Oakland County Treasurer in the establishment of the Oakland County Foreclosure Prevention Initiative in collaboration with United Way, Lighthouse of Oakland County and other entities. I similarly support the treasurer’s Taxpayer Assistance Meetings as a means of counseling with at-risk homeowners. We do not benefit as communities when people who wish to retain ownership of their homes are unable to do so. As treasurer I will seek to expand these services by placing a special emphasis on communication. Current practices allow months to pass and fines to accumulate when collection responsibility is handed off from local municipalities to the county treasurer’s office. Errors by homeowners and lenders go undetected far too long. I will enact new procedures to close this information gap.
The key issues of the Oakland County Treasurer’s race are the protection of taxpayers, the restoring of integrity in county government and securing the county’s financial future. These issues rise to the top because they collectively represent a departure from the standards that Oakland County residents justifiably expect. The need to protect taxpayers is evidenced by the recent Michigan Supreme Court case over the seizure and sale of an Oakland County residence over an $8.41 property tax mistake. Integrity is called in question by steps to hide financial details. The county’s financial future is jeopardized by sharply increased spending. Disclosing financial data is the starting point for getting the county back on the path that L. Brooks Patterson so ably mapped out. The public has a right to know. Next comes a commitment to best practices as defined by the financial community rather than by political expedience.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
My life is driven by a love for God, family, country and community. I built a thriving business based on the premise that customers deserve the highest caliber of service, and that no person should pay more in taxes than the law requires. I hold the tax profession’s most sought after license. I hold an advanced business degree from the university that stands for being “leaders and best.” I do the hard things that prove I’m committed to what I say. In 2015 I crisscrossed my township campaigning against Proposal One to increase Michigan’s sales tax. In 2016 my team and I knocked on 17,000 doors as I ran for the State House of Representatives. I came up 15 votes short, but was endorsed by L. Brooks Patterson, the Michigan Bankers Association and the MI Association of CPAs. I am the right person to be Oakland County’s next treasurer.