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Meridian Township Treasurer - 4 Year Term- Vote For Not More Than 1

Meridian Township Treasurer

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  • Candidate picture

    Julie Brixie
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Erik H. Lindquist
    (NP)

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Biographical Information

What makes you more qualified than other candidates for this office?

Do you support raising taxes as a way to pay for road improvements? Yes or no, please explain.

Are you comfortable with the structure and scope of local government? Yes or no, please explain.

Related to government structure, what would you change?

What are the three most important issues facing the city/township and how would you address them?

As property tax revenue and state aid decline, is it appropriate for the county to assume a larger role in providing services to city/township residents? Yes or no, please explain.

What city services do you consider most vital?

What city/township services are least vital and can be trimmed to lower expenses?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? Yes or no. If no, please explain.

Hometown Okemos
Education B.S. University of Illinois M.S, MSU Environmental Toxicology and Soil Sciences
Family Married Three daughters
Professional Experience Environmental Chemist Environmental Consultant
Political Experience Elected Trustee 2000, 2004 Elected Treasurer 2008, 2012
Campaign Website http://www.juliebrixie.com
I have served 8 years as Meridian Township Treasurer and 8 years as Trustee. I am a certified municipal treasurer and a certified public funds investor. I've collected over $1.8 million in taxes from delinquent personal property and bankruptcies while Treasurer.
Yes, at the state level and at the local level. I support putting an increase question locally to our voters to see if they are interested in approving more for our roads. They continue to crumble and we need to do more to improve them.
The state has not been doing a good enough job of revenue sharing with local governments and we continue to be very reliant on property taxes for our operations.
I would find a way to reduce local communities reliance on property taxes for their operations. This is a fix that needs to occur at the State level.
Growing pension obligations are our biggest financial challenge. We need to put a group of people together to examine the different options available to address our pensions. Then we need to decide which option is the best for our community and our retirees and our employees. We also have a challenge with our roads. They continue to worsen and we are not able to keep up with them with the funding we have available. Keeping our police and fire services top notch remains very crucial especially given the demographics of our aging population. A safe community with high quality schools will continue to attract people to it.
It isn't always cost effective for the county to cover the services. We should look to share services where we can, especially if it is more economical. But we also have to mindful that bigger is not always better. Our shared assessor with the City of East Lansing has been working well. We also provide some police services for Williamstown Township. When communities work together to find cost savings it usually results in a successful arrangement.
Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services remain our most vital service. However, providing clean drinking water is also extremely important. We have statutory requirements regarding accounting, assessing, taxes, elections, building and planning. All of the work we do at the Township is important to the people receiving the service. For example, our Communications team keeps residents informed, our Parks Department provides important quality of life for our residents, our grounds team keeps everything looking good, our Public Works department makes sure everything runs properly and our Information Technology team and Administration team keeps the whole operation running smoothly.
We went through a trimming process during the Great Recession. We consolidated a number of positions in the Township at that time. We now have a pretty efficient operation. In a community like ours, the services that are the least vital are some of the most popular services that we offer. Our quality of life is greatly improved by our Parks and Recreation program. Our human services offered help those most in need in our community. Our recycling coordinator helps the township achieve goals that the public believes in. Just because they are least vital does not mean they can be trimmed.
Yes.
Hometown Okemos, Michigan
Education BS Accounting, George Mason University Certified Fraud Examiner
Family Married
Professional Experience 34 years as accounting executive in variety of industries including, health insurance, transportation, fraud examination/prevention, and Professor of Accounting at LCC
Political Experience Active in grass roots activism and advocacy at local, state and federal levels regarding health care reform, and advocacy for the underserved populations in health care and physical/mental disabilities community
I am an accounting professional with 34 years of experience and have worked the last 12 years as a Certified Fraud Examiner and Professor of Accounting at LCC. I have been provided with numerous opportunities throughout my career to find efficiencies in operations and identify anomalies in financial statements that could be trouble if left unchecked. My certification is the result of rigorous academic and examination proces which includes professional credentials, a four part 10 hour exam and annual continuing education credits are required to maintain the credential.The CPFIM credential (www.aptusc.org) held by my opponent is an 8 hour seminar followed by a short exam.
Yes, with the approval of the voters. Road condition is quite likely the most talked about subject around the office. The damage done to vehicles and the irritation caused by constantly slamming your car into a crater of asphalt has a major impact on our sense of living a good quality of life. The Greater Lansing Chamber of Commerce recently made a significant push for the city of Lansing to repave Michigan Avenue and they were successful in that effort. That is an example where our community involvement can shake dollars loose that are badly needed for infrastructure...and that didn't require raising taxes...it required putting a spotlight on the problem and pursuing the solution.
Local government has the most direct impact on a local citizen's life. Public safety (Police-Fire-EMS) are all essential to the safety security and health of everyone. We want to be confident that when you need those services, they will be there.In order to ensure these functions are adequately staffed and funded it is the responsibility of the township elected officials to keep an eye on the funds and regulatory environment created to keep the citizens protected. There can be a number of unforeseen impediments to financial stability that only a qualified professional would spot. Failure to alert us that the unfunded pension liab was 'only' $17M 8 years ago has now given us a $45M problem.
There seems to be an over reliance on the state to provide for funding that goes beyond the collection of property taxes and fees. This necessitates that the treasurer must be as effective as allowed by statute to earn the maximum return on invested funds. The reporting to the taxpayers needs to be comprehensive in the level of detail provided regarding the financial performance and financial efficiency of the local government. I have talked with numerous citizens during the last several months who have not been aware of the largest financial challenges facing the township. The CATA-BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project is a prime example of an issue that was not shared until last summer.
Enforcing the resolution to oppose the CATA BRT, Expanding the Pension Board to include the plans managed by Municipal Employees Retirement System) and putting the brakes on the building of high density student housing. The BRT is not adding service beyond the potential time savings of 10-12 minutes of travel time between the Capitol and Meridian Mall. CATA has not offered alternatives, only 'ideas' about how to modify the current plan and it will cost (today) $15M/Mile to build and $2.8M additional to operate. Bad plan. The current pension board only oversees a plan with 1 participant...disgraceful. No attempt has been made to reverse course until GASB 67/8 required disclosure. Now we act
If not the county, we should certainly look to our closer neighbors to find logical crossover skills and services that contribute to greater efficiency and stretches the tax dollar for the communities involved. We share an assessor with the City of East Lansing and assist Williamston Township with our excellent law enforcement team. That doesn't relieve us of the obligation to continue to lobby our county and state officials to consider the impacts of their decisions which reduce this funding. I have deep experience in reaching out to elected officials to help them understand the ramifications of their votes. The townships have been shortchanged as a result of several laws enacted recently.
It is pretty tough to place these services in a hierarchy of good to less good but I don't think anyone would argue that our Police, Fire and EMS services are at the top of the list. These services are vital to contributing to peace of mind and confidence in the local government. The Flint water crises reminded us of how something we all take for granted can become a terrifying daily experience. Infrastructure and environmental protections regarding water pollution,and clean air become extraordinarily important to maintaining health and safety for our community. These must be protected and given the resources required to operate at peak levels.
I wouldn't be able to identify specific services until I am behind the desk and reviewing the effectiveness and contributions of the numerous services provided. However, the one area I would address from day one would be a review of all vendor relationships and expenditures made during the last 5 years. The township has spent, in my view, unnecessarily, for special street lights along Okemos Road which are invisible among the numerous signs, light, and telephone polls. We have hired a firm for $80,000 to conduct a questionable branding study.

Contract compliance review and an examination of alternative vendor relationships can be the easiest way to cut costs without reducing services.
yes

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