PRIME Award - 2021

The PRIME is our most prestigious honor, and stands for: Professional Recognition In Municipal Excellence (PRIME). The PRIME recognizes individuals who have shown distinguished service in their professions, communities, and the Michigan Municipal Treasurers Association. Since 1989, the MMTA has recognized 33 outstanding individuals who exemplified these attributes.

2021 PRIME voting for this year's PRIME nominees is now closed. The 2021 PRIME Award will be presented at Fall Conference during the Awards Banquet on September 21.

2021 PRIME Nominees include Paul Linn, Bret Padgett, and Laurie Sheldon - you can review their biographical information below.

Paul Linn, City of Ironwood Finance Director/Treasurer

Paul began his municipal career in 2011, when he was hired by the City of Ironwood as their Finance Director/Treasurer, the same position he holds today. His education and knowledge of municipal finance made him the top candidate for this position. He serves as the chief financial officer for the City. In this capacity, he oversees all aspects of the finance office. This includes the collection and disbursement of all funds (including property taxes), maintenance of accounting records, managing the City's investments, and ensuring compliance with required local, state, and federal financial reporting requirements. Paul is responsible for preparing the annual budget and presenting it to the City Commission. He also coordinates the annual financial audit for the City. Paul’s duties also include managing the City’s personnel system, including compliance with federal and state employment standards, maintaining employment records, and administering the City's pension and health insurance programs.

Prior to working for the City of Ironwood, Paul was an accountant at a private accounting firm, where he worked primarily on audits of local governments and school districts. This exposure gave him great insight into the complex world of governmental accounting and treasury. Paul also performed reviews, compilations, and audits of non-profit organizations and for-profit companies. As an accountant, he also prepared individual and corporate tax returns.

As the City’s CFO, Paul is involved in all projects, many of which are grant based and require financial reporting, record keeping and compliance. The City of Ironwood has been very successful in obtaining federal and state grants for water/sewer utility upgrades, street improvements, housing rehabilitation, blight elimination, and parks and recreation. One of the more recent projects he was actively involved in was the addition of a Downtown City Square. This was a $1.7 million project with an 88% State of Michigan grant. The project involved purchasing two large private parking lots in the downtown core and converting them into a large public green space. The main amenities include an amphitheater for music performances and outdoor theater functions, an ice rink in the winter, a splash pad in the summer, a location for food truck vendors, outdoor fireplace for year-round use, solar and environmental features, outdoor seating, and extensive landscaping and green space to beautify the downtown.

Paul became a member of MMTA in 2012. Since then, he has served annually on the MMTA in the U.P. Committee. He also served on the 2017 Fall Conference Committee. Paul has also been a Treasurer-to-Treasurer panelist multiple times during conferences and online sessions. He is active on the MMTA listserv, both asking questions and providing input on other members' posts.

Paul became a member of the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association (MGFOA) in 2012. He attends conferences and other educational sessions to network and stay updated on changes in financial reporting requirements. Paul joined the Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada (APT US&C) in 2014. The APT US&C has given Paul the opportunity to achieve multiple certifications, including Certified Public Funds Investment Manager (CPFIM) in 2014, Certified Public Finance Administrator (CPFA) in 2017, and Advanced Certified Public Funds Investment Manager (ACPFIM) in 2021. Paul became a member of the Upper Peninsula Human Resources Association (UPHRA) in 2014. He is an active participant in their quarterly meetings and has assisted in the planning of annual conferences in the past.

Paul has earned his: Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science Business Administration (accounting concentration), MiCPT, CPFA, CPFIM, and ACPFIM. Paul received the MMTA Service Award in 2017 for assisting with the continued success of MMTA in the UP, serving as "chauffeur" for conferences held throughout the state, and his generous spirit of recruitment and advocacy on behalf of MMTA.

Family is the core of Paul's happiness and success. Without their love and support, he would not be where he is at today. Most of his time away from work is spent with his wife and their two children. Together, they enjoy many of the outdoor activities that the U.P. provides such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, boating, kayaking, golfing, hunting, and fishing. In the spring, they collect and boil down maple sap to produce their own maple syrup. Paul also enjoys coaching Little League baseball.


Bret PadgettComstock Charter Township Treasurer

Bret was first elected Treasurer in November 2012. Many members of his family are in public service, and his Aunt Joann, who was a community activist, encouraged him to run for Treasurer. She thought it would be a great way for him to get involved based on his educational background.

One special project that Bret took the lead on was a road millage initiative in the Township. After a millage request failed by a slim margin, he decided to look at other options. With the help of the township’s attorney, Bret found a statute that would allow the Board to adopt a road millage by resolution rather than by voter approval. In 2016, after many months of discussion and public input, Bret was able to convince the Board to adopt the millage, rather than risk another slim failure on the ballot. Since then, the public has embraced the millage. The Township has reduced the amount of roads in poor condition by half, and more than quadrupled the amount of roads in good condition.

Bret first joined MMTA in 2013 and registered for Basic Institute, completing it in 2015. In 2014, he joined the membership and legislative committees and have remained in both since. Bret regularly attends the Winter Workshop, Advanced Institute, and Fall Conference and is a frequent and integral contributor to the Treasurer-to-Treasurer panel discussions as their legislative specialist. Bret was elected to the MMTA Board in 2019 and currently serves as the Legislative Committee chair.

Bret is also a member of APT US&C and frequently attends annual conferences and site trainings. He was also elected to the Michigan Townships Association Board of Directors in 2019. Bret has earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University in 2002, CPFIM in 2014, completed the Township Governance Academy in 2015, earned his MiCPT in 2016, CPFA in 2016, ACPFA in 2019, and ACPFIM in 2019.

Bret enjoys spending time with his family, travelling quite a bit and is, along with his family, an avid camper. He also likes playing golf and softball.


Laurie Sheldon, City of Kentwood Treasurer 

Laurie was elected City of Kentwood Treasurer in 2013, to a diverse community of 51,000 residents representing over 60 nationalities and 63 languages. Prior to being elected, she served as a City Commissioner for two years and a Planning Commissioner for seven years.

She began her municipal experience at the request of her mentor, former Mayor Root, to join the Planning Commission. She found a passion for public service and an aspiration to expand her experience into the municipal world. She never envisioned her career path would lead into municipal government. She explains: “I love my job and am so proud that every day I go to work I have the ability to make a difference in my own community and meet individuals from all different corners of the world.”

Prior to serving the City of Kentwood, Laurie was highly active in managing millage proposals and candidate campaigns through her business, Ballot Box Consulting. She successfully chaired three millage proposals for the City Kentwood, worked with the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union teaching running effective millage campaigns and ran over 20 candidate and proposal campaigns throughout the past 17 years.

In 2017 Kentwood celebrated their 50th Anniversary as a Chartered City. Laurie was appointed and asked to lead the task by Mayor Kepley for the yearlong celebration. With an amazing committee, they created a commemorative anniversary logo, a dedicated sponsorship package and organized monthly events by working with media, businesses and schools. Finally, the team coordinated a “Celebrate Kentwood” weekend with a street fair, food trucks, beer tent, entertainment performances, ‘Kentwood's Got Talent’, and fireworks. It was an extraordinary year celebrating the heritage of the City’s past and the vision for its future.

Laurie joined the MMTA immediately after being elected as Treasurer in 2015. The MMTA was a tremendous help from the first day that she took the office. As an elected Treasurer, the job starts with no experience, no manual and no formal training. Laurie explains: “Because I did not possess all the needed training, I leaned on the MMTA a great deal. If I did not know how to complete a task, I would contact other treasurers for counsel. I never wanted to guess at how something should be done. It needed to be correct. I had the responsibility to work with tax payer’s dollars and I did not take that lightly.”

The most significant step to growing her knowledge was the MiCPT Basic Institute. Through the three-year program, she obtained a thorough and in depth understanding of municipal treasury. Fellow members were so welcoming and helpful, which led her to apply for a Board position to support other new treasurers entering their positions with little experience. In 2016 Laurie was elected to the MMTA Board of Directors and currently serves as the Board Secretary. She has served on the Legislative Committee, Education Committee, Communication Committee, Membership Committee, Fall Conference Committee, Winter Workshop Committee and Professional Development Committee. Laurie currently moderates the monthly Treasurer-to-Treasurer forums. She says that through the MMTA, she has met amazing colleagues and built great friendships that have enriched her career indefinitely.

Laurie’s professional memberships include: Association of Public Treasurers of the US & Canada, Member 2015 – present; Michigan Government Finance Officers Association, Member 2015 – present; Kent County Treasurer's Association, Chair 2018-2020 and Member 2015 – present; Veteran Action Board, Committee Member 2021; Community Rebuilders, Committee Member 2021.

She has earned her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Davenport University, MiCPT (Michigan Certified Professional Treasurer); ACPFA (Advanced Certified Public Finance Administrator) from the APT US&C; ACPFIM (Advanced Certified Public Funds Investment Manager) from the APT US&C; and received the APT US&C Certification of Excellence for the City of Kentwood Cash Handling Policy.

Laurie has proudly resided in the City of Kentwood for more than 35 years. She has been happily married to her husband, Chris, for 19 years and they have three beautiful children and two crazy Australian Shepherds. In her free time, Laurie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, golfing, traveling, and volunteering as a small group coach at church. Laurie concludes by saying “My life is invested in Kentwood and I have a true passion to help make it better each and every day.”