Keep Macomb Your Home:
One of the main jobs of the county treasurer is to collect delinquent taxes for local communities. Unfortunately that occasionally means foreclosing on property when individuals refuse to pay within the timeline prescribed by law. This unfortunately can have a negative effect not only on the individual who loses their property, but to the larger community as we lose productive citizens and property values in the area are reduced. Therefore, while foreclosure is a necessary tool of my office, a main goal of this office is to give homeowners every opportunity we can to pay their taxes and remain in their home. In order to accomplish this goal, education about financial literacy is key. This means making sure that individuals know their rights, are informed of the help available and working with them on payment plans with reasonable terms. Foreclosure should be a last resort. While this is not a new challenge, it is perhaps the most important one that my office faces.
That is why when I came into office I immediately got to work enhancing our foreclosure prevention process. My team put together the “Keep Macomb Your Home” campaign, the first such campaign in the history of Macomb County, to ensure that citizens knew about the upcoming deadlines. Additionally, my office works one on one with citizens facing foreclosure, directing them to the assistance that they need. Whether it be Step Forward Michigan, MSU Extension counseling, or Veteran services, my office works to inform taxpayers of each possible resource to save their home. Additionally, well beyond the statutory deadlines, my office is working with taxpayers to design payments plans that are reasonable, fair and effective. I am proud of the work my staff and I are doing. I believe that Macomb County has the best tax foreclosure prevention program in the state. However, I plan to continually improve the process to ensure that every resident has an opportunity to Keep Macomb Their Home.
One of the first things I did when I was appointed to this position was to begin a systematic review of the technology the office was utilizing to determine what we could do to improve the services we are providing to the public. From working to upgrade our website to beginning the process of accepting online payments, I have already begun updating our technology. In the 21st Century, no one should have to take off work and drive to a remote location to pay their taxes. Additionally, I have been working with our Macomb County Clerk to implement electronic tax certifications when individuals are electronically recording certain deeds within the county. I am also in the process of reviewing what technology we use throughout the office to determine how we can better serve the public. Throughout the next four years I hope to continue the process of reviewing products and services that can be brought to Macomb County to better serve our residents
Protection your Tax Dollars:
Acting as a responsible custodian of the county funds. The county treasurer is the legal custodian of all of the county’s funds. It is important that the there is liquidity before investing to ensure that payroll can be met and enough capital is on hand in case of emergencies. Once we ensure safety and financial prudence, then we must take an active approach to investing to ensure we receive beneficial returns on our investments. It is my job as treasurer to invest county funds safely, to seek a reasonable return on county investments and properly served taxpayers through use of responsible best practices.
Improved Investment Strategy:
County investments are regulated by state law to help protect county funds. However, county treasurers are given a good amount of latitude within state law as to how best to invest the county’s money. In the past Macomb County invested solely in bank CD’s for 180 days or less. When a CD matured the money was kept in the same bank regardless of what rates were being offered by other banks. Since taking office I have changed the county’s investment philosophy and begun to reinvest maturing CD’s based on length of term and rate being offered, while still being sure only to invest in safe responsible banks. This change in strategy should benefit the county by increasing its return on investment significantly. I believe that our investment strategy should be ever evolving to be sure that the county is maximizing the return for taxpayers in a safe, efficient and responsible way.
Unfortunately our society is full of individuals willing to make a quick buck by defrauding honest hardworking individuals. Increasingly this is happening to working class individuals who purchase a home through land contract. For many of these individuals the land contract calls for the property taxes on their home to be wrapped into their monthly payment. They are paying on-time every month believing that the property taxes are being paid. However, in some cases the seller of the property is simply keeping the tax dollars for themselves and defrauding the purchaser in the process. Since taking office I have teamed up with the Macomb County Register of Deeds to provide a fraud protection notice to both the official tax payer and the current occupant any time an item is recorded with the register of deeds. This means that the both the buyer and the seller will receive the notice any time our office files paperwork with the register of deeds regarding delinquent property taxes. We hope that by providing these extra notices we can catch instances of fraud sooner and discourage people from engaging in this activity in Macomb County.