Last Updated on October 20, 2020 by admin
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — As Grosse Pointe Shores’ finance officer and treasurer, Rhonda Ricketts dealt with every part from budgets and audits to payroll. However whereas she was employed for her monetary ability set, she was additionally favored and admired by many for doing greater than what her job description entailed.
“She did an amazing job, and he or she was all the time accessible to do further issues for the town,” former Shores Metropolis Supervisor Mark Wollenweber stated.
After 33 years and 4 months of service to the Shores, Ricketts will retire efficient Nov. 27. Due to trip time, her final day within the workplace was Oct. 21, just some days earlier than she marks her 60th birthday.
Ricketts, of Chesterfield Township, had gotten a bachelor’s diploma in enterprise from Walsh Faculty earlier than taking a job as a bookkeeper for Rochester Hills. She had been working for that metropolis for about 5 years when a consultant from Walsh contacted her a couple of job opening in Grosse Pointe Shores.
“I wasn’t even conversant in the Grosse Pointe space,” stated Ricketts.
She stated she wasn’t actively on the lookout for a brand new job, however after interviewing with then-Metropolis Supervisor Michael Kenyon, Ricketts was supplied the place of finance officer. Treasurer was added to her job title in 2009 when the Shores switched from being a village to being a metropolis.
“I’ve been pleased with caring for our taxpayers’ cash, being fiscally accountable,” Ricketts stated.
Her accomplishments embody serving to the town to attain AAA bond score standing — the very best potential. The Shores reached this in December 2015, simply months after neighboring Grosse Pointe Farms did the identical; the Farms and Shores had been then the one two cities in Wayne County to have a AAA bond score. A greater bond score means decrease rates of interest to finance main capital initiatives and expenditures, so having a AAA bond score saves a municipality cash. Within the years since then, Ricketts and different metropolis officers have labored laborious to take care of AAA standing.
In an effort to avoid wasting the Shores cash in the course of the Nice Recession, Ricketts and a number of other different longtime directors retired in 2012 and returned to work for the town on a contractual foundation, permitting the town to retain institutional information. They took decrease salaries and went on the town’s retiree well being care plan.
“She saved (the town) cash on a regular basis,” stated former Metropolis Councilman Bruce Bisballe, who labored carefully with Ricketts as chair of the Finance Committee.
Amongst her many initiatives had been discovering higher and cheaper prescription drug protection for workers; providing residents the choice of emailed water payments, which lowered postal prices; slicing auditing charges in half by switching to a distinct agency; and negotiating for a discount in the price of legal responsibility insurance coverage, Bisballe stated. He stated Ricketts additionally observed vacant residential lot had come up for tax public sale. Town was capable of buy the lot for $15,000 after which flip round and promote it for $200,000.
“She’s one of many sharpest monetary individuals I’ve ever labored with,” Wollenweber stated.
Present Shores Metropolis Councilman Douglas Kucyk has a enterprise background however found that hadn’t ready him for municipal funds. Appointed to the Finance Committee, Kucyk met with Ricketts earlier than committee and council conferences to study extra.
“I got here to seek out out that authorities funds had been a lot totally different than a enterprise,” Kucyk stated. “It’s extremely enlightening that I might sit down with (her). … She’s helped me out a bunch, and he or she’s helped this metropolis out much more.”
Apart from funds, Ricketts took on different tasks, together with organizing an annual automobile present at Osius Park and vacation collections at Metropolis Corridor for nonprofits serving to individuals and pets in want. Wollenweber stated Ricketts paid for some provides and prizes for the automobile present, and refused to let the town reimburse her.
“That’s the type of dedication she had,” Wollenweber stated. “She went the additional mile as a result of she felt the residents deserved that.”
Others echo that.
“She genuinely cares in regards to the metropolis,” Bisballe stated. “I’m sorry to see her go. These type of staff with loyalty and institutional information have gotten rarer and rarer.”
Ricketts has been acknowledged by her friends outdoors of the town, as properly. For the final two years, she has acquired the Distinguished Funds Presentation Award from the Authorities Finance Officers Affiliation of america and Canada, which acknowledges budgets that go above and past minimal necessities and function a monetary plan, an operations information, a coverage doc and a automobile of communication.
In keeping with a letter to the town from the GFOA, this honor “represents a major achievement by the (governmental) entity. It displays the dedication of the governing physique and workers to assembly the very best rules of governmental budgeting.”
Mayor Ted Kedzierski was amongst those that applauded the extra user-friendly funds reviews. He stated Ricketts “will really be missed.”
“We’re unhappy to see Rhonda go away after an illustrious 33-year profession with the town,” Kedzierski stated by e mail. “Rhonda was answerable for upgrading our monetary reporting, notably with new GASB (Authorities Accounting Requirements Board) necessities, and making ready a brochure in on a regular basis language which higher explains the sources and purposes of our money stream utilized in creating our funds. With the help of the Finance Committee, Rhonda additionally developed forward-looking budgets and forecasts for planning functions. We’re grateful that Rhonda, after retiring from the town about seven years in the past, elected to come back again and proceed her exemplary work for the town.”
In 2019, out of greater than 100 candidates, Ricketts was considered one of roughly 30 ladies chosen for the Michigan Municipal League’s Girls’s Municipal Management Program.
Bisballe stated he was struck by Ricketts’ “capacity to get and provides respect to all these she handled. She was all the time a sort and respectful particular person. … (And) she has super private energy and integrity.”
Ricketts wasn’t planning on retiring but, however like different veteran staff who’ve left lately — together with Division of Public Works Director Brett Smith — she felt let down by the actions of a number of elected officers. Ricketts stated it began with the choice by some council members final 12 months to power Wollenweber to retire. Government Administrative Assistant Laurie Duncan opted to retire Aug. 30, 2019, when she discovered Wollenweber was leaving in October 2019. Neither place had been stuffed at press time.
“We had an amazing staff right here,” Ricketts stated. “Simply the morale right here, the residents — every part was fantastic.”
These departures left a small administrative workers shouldering appreciable further work, because it diminished them from 5 individuals to a few.
“We’re stressed,” Ricketts stated. “We’re working, working, working. I actually really feel nearly all of the council has not a clue what the executive workers does.”
That features coming in voluntarily on weekends and holidays to compensate for work whereas the workplace is quiet — one thing Ricketts stated she and different administrative staffers routinely do.
The day earlier than the Might 2020 Shores Metropolis Council assembly, Ricketts stated she discovered the council supposed to vary retiree well being care advantages that retirees stated had been agreed to contractually, forcing retirees to pay 20% towards their month-to-month well being care premiums and resulting in increased co-pays and different elevated prices. Retirees have been asking officers to rescind that call, saying it has value them undue hardship at a difficult time in the midst of a pandemic.
“From the day I walked by the door, (elected officers) promised retiree well being care was going to be lined,” Ricketts stated. “That was just about the ultimate straw.”
Even so, Ricketts opted to stay on board longer than she was contractually required, with the intention to work with auditors on the audit of the 2019-20 fiscal 12 months books. She stated she “didn’t assume it could be truthful” to power her substitute to deal with that accountability.
Ricketts stated she plans to chill out at first, though she admits she’ll probably return to work nearer to dwelling.
“I’m simply going to take it day-to-day,” she stated.
An animal lover, she shall be spending extra time together with her canines. She and her husband, Michael Ricketts, who’s retired, are pet mother and father to 2 rescued huskies — Jake, 13, and Sonya, 16.
Ricketts stated she’s going to overlook her co-workers and “most of the residents,” who’ve been stopping by in latest weeks to say farewell. She laughingly stated she’s even going to overlook the auditors, though “you’re not supposed to love your auditors.”
All through her profession, Kucyk stated, Ricketts has gone “above and past” and, regardless of her abilities and accomplishments, she’s “been so humble.”
“In the long run, little issues add up,” he continued. “We want extra individuals like her.”