PRIME Award - 2022

The PRIME is MMTA's 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 34 outstanding individuals who exemplified these attributes.

2022 PRIME voting for this year's honoree will open August 5 and close August 19. Each MMTA member will receive an email with a secure link to vote online. The 2022 PRIME Award is presented during Fall Conference at Crystal Mountain during the Awards Banquet on Tuesday, September 20.

2022 PRIME nominees include Roberta Cahill, Bret Padgett, Marie Sherry, and Tricia Wiggle-Bazzy - you can review their biographical information below. Congratulations to all the PRIME candidates - their accomplishments are impressive!

 

Roberta Cahill 

Roberta joined the City of Grand Rapids in the Treasurer's Office as an Accountant in January of 1998 and was briefly promoted to a newly created Accountant-II position before being appointed as the Deputy Treasurer in September of 2017 when the previous Deputy retired. She was interested in working for the City of Grand Rapids because it was a perfect blend of customer service and accounting, two of her passions.

Prior to the City, Roberta worked retail sales/customer service/inventory/payroll from 1988 -1994 while in high school and college. She credits her retail days for her passion for customer care and great 10-key skills. Roberta began her accounting career in the private sector from 1993 to 1998, starting first by reconciling credit cards for the corporate office of a group of over 20 restaurants in three states. She moved up through accounts payable to general ledger and cash management, then to Assistant Controller. The reconciliation of inter-company transactions was a great segue to fund accounting.

In 2004, Roberta coordinated with the Grand Rapids Deputy Treasurer to spearhead the transition from the City’s tax and accounts receivable mainframe system to BS&A. It was the easiest system conversion she’d ever been through. Roberta also successfully helped establish PayIt (GR’s online payment partner), Autoagent (an online Mortgage Company/Tax Service payment partner) and assisted with transitioning banking services multiple times. She has helped with two ERP system conversions in over 24 years with the City and is now in the early stages of a third. Though the ERP system conversions were successful, the products under-delivered and have become unsustainable and unsupported. Roberta looks forward to being part of the team to implement an ERP system that is already well-established for municipal accounting in the cloud, without requiring customizations.

Roberta began the MMTA Institute Basic Training in 2007 and achieved certification in 2009, re-certifying for the MiCPT in 2018 and 2022. She assisted with the MMTA and APT US&C conferences when they have been held in Grand Rapids. Roberta presented at the Fall Conference in 2018 and participated in a Treasurer-to-Treasurer panel in 2021. She is a regular responder on the Listserv and often gets direct calls or emails for assistance. In her opinion (and thirty years of accounting experience) the care, support and educational opportunities offered through the MMTA is unparalleled. As a side note, she feels privileged to have developed exceptional friendships with several Institute classmates who try to meet up for a "girl’s weekend" at least once a year outside of the MMTA conferences.

Roberta’s MMTA experience assisted in achieving her CPFA designation in 2009 from the APT US&C. Continuing her educational experience with MMTA allowed for re-certification in 2014 and 2019. She was also certified through the APT US&C's Internal Controls Program in May of 2016.

Roberta has earned a BBA in Accounting  with an Information Systems Minor from Davenport College/University; the CPFA from APT US&C, the MiCPT from MMTA, Customer Service Training from the City of Grand Rapids University, Certificate of Participation for MMTA’s Fall Conference Committee, and a Certificate in APT US&C’s Internal Controls Training Program.

Roberta admits that she joined the half-century club in January; she also celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary in June. In her spare time she loves hanging out with family and friends, going to concerts, hiking, watching NFL games with her hubby (Geaux Saints!), or hockey games (Go Wings!), reading books, and worshiping her cats, per their demand and expectation.

 

Bret Padgett 

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 has served as the chair of the Legislative and Education Committees.

Bret is a member of APT US&C and frequently attends annual conferences and site trainings. He has also served on the Michigan Townships Association Board of Directors since 2019. Bret has earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University, completed the Township Governance Academy in 2015, earned his MiCPT in 2016, and his CPFIM in 2014, CPFA in 2016, ACPFA in 2019, and ACPFIM in 2019. The Township’s Investment Policy is certified by APT US&C.

Bret enjoys spending time with Jennifer, his wife of 19 years, and their three children, Sydney, Jack, and Parker. Together they enjoy traveling and camping. Bret also loves golfing and watching professional sports, particularly baseball.

 

Marie Sherry 

Thinking law would be a good career, Marie studied political science in college which then sparked an interest in local government. The early years of her career were spent at townships, in accounting and general management. Then in 2001, she found a home at the City of Dexter – a great community, wonderful coworkers, and a culture among staff that is amazing. Marie explains “Dexter has given me the room to learn and grow, to innovate and change, and to be involved in organizations dedicated to the betterment of local government.” The City is starting to transition to the next generation as many current staff approach retirement and she is excited about sharing what she has learned as they start their careers.

Marie served as a Cryptologic Technician Maintenance Petty Officer 2nd Class in the US Navy from 1985 to 1992. She was stationed with the Naval Security Group in San Diego, and with the Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe in London England. Her job as a "CTM" was maintaining and repairing equipment used for secure communications. Marie says that the best thing about her naval service was meeting people from all over the country, some of whom remain friends to this day, as well as the exposure to different cultures and lifestyles. She feels that this has allowed her to better serve diverse communities both at the City and within organizations such as the MMTA.

A major professional endeavor – and challenge - was transforming Dexter from a village to a city in 2014. This change involved the education of two separate committees – the City Study Committee and the Charter Commission – as well as the voters. It was very important that the information that was given, especially in the area of taxation, was both factual and accurate as one of the worst things that could happen to the reputation of city leadership would be have people misunderstand the impact of the change on their finances. On a different note, one of the things Marie has done throughout the years is implement new technology to make things easier on both staff and taxpayers, while improving the flow of information to Council and other decision makers.

As a 20-year member of MMTA, Marie can honestly say that the organization has helped make her life better. Not just through the educational programs that have helped her career, but because of the people involved. She really enjoys working with the other Fall Conference Committee members to brainstorm ideas for topics - each year there are amazing ideas - and facilitating Treasurer-to-Treasurer sessions for the same reason. In recent years, being a presenter at conferences, often on assessing but also on policy and other topics, has allowed her to grow and give back in a totally different way. She is hopeful that the audience has enjoyed the sessions as much as she has enjoyed being a part of them.

Additionally, Marie has been involved in the Michigan Municipal League's Municipal Finance Policy Committee, making recommendations to the League on pending legislation involving finance and taxation. She has served on the Legislative Committee and the Mentoring Committee of the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association and as a reviewer for the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. Marie is also a member of the APT US&C, the Michigan Assessors Association, the Washtenaw County Treasurers Association, and the Washtenaw County Assessors Association.

Marie has earned: a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and a Master of Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University, the Advanced Certified Public Finance Administrator and Advanced Certified Public Funds Investment Manager from APT US&C, the Michigan Certified Public Treasurer from MMTA and the Michigan Advanced Assessment Officer from the Michigan State Tax Commission.

Marie was recognized by the MMTA Board of Directors with a Service Award in 2018 for her service to the MMTA through committee membership and educational presentations. She received the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from 2008-Present, which is awarded annually for budget documents that excel as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communication tool. Dexter’s Investment policy has also been certified by APT US&C.

On a personal note, Marie and her late husband have one son, who is 27 and works in the golf industry; she also has two dogs and a cat to keep her company. Marie’s hobbies include competitive adult figure skating in solo ice dance and synchronized skating, camping on her property near Clare, and occasionally driving her Jeep off the beaten path. Volunteering also gives her great personal satisfaction and provides a way to give back to others, from managing a youth hockey team to helping run a national figure skating championship to doing laundry at the animal shelter.

 

Tricia Wiggle-Bazzy 

Tricia started at Hamburg Township in 2009 as a part-time cashier, hired to do cash receipts. However, the township was so far behind on bank reconciliations, she was tasked with helping get those caught up, too. That project was accomplished within three months, and with ten months Tricia was promoted and appointed Deputy Treasurer.

Prior to her work at Hamburg Township, Tricia graduated from Clarenceville High School and worked in the hospitality industry, including twelve years at the four-star restaurant, The Whitney. She says her time at The Whitney as the Controller of Finance prepared her for the role she has today.

Tricia is dedicated to the Township and is always willing to help with special projects or events. In 2010, Tricia started to work on Delinquent Personal Property collection which hadn’t been addressed in over five years – the Township had an outstanding balance over $100,000. As of today, the outstanding balance is only $661; Tricia feels that has been one of her biggest accomplishments at the township. Also notable is that Hamburg Township’s rating has improved from a B rating in 2009 to currently having an AA + S&P Global Rating; audits have also been perfect since 2011 due to outstanding effort and great teamwork.

Over the last 13 years, Tricia has volunteered for the Township Clean-up Day as well as the Hamburg Fun Fest. She has a passion for customer service and is a people person. Tricia explains: “There is something about being able to help other people, either at the counter explaining taxes, utilities or even just there to listen because they need someone to talk to; I even love helping my residents outside of work, it can be grocery shopping, prescription pickups or yard work.” Tricia loves to see her residents come in happy and leave happy.

In 2011, Tricia joined the MMTA to further her education. She graduated from Basic Institute and received her MiCPT certification in 2013. During her first couple of years, she decided to serve on different committees to get more involved in the organization. She served on the Education Committee, Communication Committee, and Membership Committee, and has also served on Professional Development Committee, Winter Workshop and Fall Conference Committees since then. Her committee work gave her the opportunity to give back to the organization that she feels has done so much for her.

Tricia was elected to the MMTA Board in 2013, and now serves as the MMTA President. Being on the board has helped Tricia grow as a leader, and she has greatly valued the opportunity to be a key part of the organization, especially her involvement in the decision making to keep the association strong.

During her first years on the MMTA board, Tricia was encouraged to run for the APT US&C board of directors; in 2015 she was elected to the national association board and served as the Accreditation Committee Chair. Tricia is now the Vice President and is truly honored to be part of two amazing treasury organizations.

The education from both of these organizations has helped her grow personally and professionally. Since graduating from Basic Institute, Tricia has continued her education and received the following certifications from APT US&C: CPFA (Certified Public Finance Administrator), ACPFA (Advanced Certified Public Finance Administrator), CPFIM (Certified Public Funds Investment Manager) and a cash handling training certification.

Tricia has recently been recognized with a Certificate of Achievement by her Hamburg Township Treasurer and Board of Trustees for “Outstanding Achievements in Municipal Finance,” exemplified by her election to President of the MMTA Board. As her confidence has grown throughout the years of training and education, she has continued to help other municipalities with tax rolls, settlement and distribution, and is now a MMTA mentor. Tricia also generously shared her procedure manual with MMTA after receiving hundreds of requests for it. Tricia never anticipated that she would be a mentor, a president and vice president of both a state and national organization. She loves Hamburg Township, her residents, and her community, and will stop at nothing to keep striving and working her hardest for them.

Tricia lives in Whitmore Lake, where she is involved as the HOA vice president of her subdivision and is currently running to become a precinct delegate to Green Oak Township. She also volunteers at the local conservation club in her spare time.

Tricia is a mother of three: Sedric, Trevor and Breezy, and a Mimi to her grandson, Kyrie. She loves that at least once a month her kids (along with their doggies and her grandson) visit for the entire weekend so they can all have family time together. She has a wonderful man by her side who supports her professionally and personally; they enjoy going out on the lake, playing basketball, Euchre and just having lots of fun and laughs together. Tricia is the type of person that will give you all that she has, even when she has nothing left; she is the first one to offer to help and say yes to a new challenge. Tricia has always set high goals, aiming for the stars in life.