Candidate Q&A: Brian Wutz, Candidate for Treasurer of Livingston County
Brian Wutz, R- will be running for treasurer of Livingston County in the Aug. 7 primary election.
Patch: How long have you lived in Livingston County?
Wutz: I finished law school at Michigan State University in 2003 and purchased a home in Livingston County in 2004. My wife Kathryn and I currently live in Genoa Township.
Patch: What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
Wutz: I am a member of the Brighton Rotary and currently serve on the Board of Directors. I am a member of the Livingston County Republican Party, Livingston County Republican Women’s Club, RetakeOurGov, RTL, and the NRA. I am a supporter of LACASA, the Thin Blue Line, the Child Abuse Prevention Council and the 2012 LeConcours De Livingston.
Patch: What personal and professional experiences make you qualified to hold the position of County Treasurer?
Wutz: I have the education, experience, and energy to bring more money into the county which can be used to keep more deputies on the streets, provide better mental health support services, provide improved courts, provide better roads or provide expansion of the county jail - all without raising taxes.
I graduated with a Bachelors Degree from Syracuse University in law and public policy. I earned a Masters in Public Administration in state and local finance from Syracuse University (ranked #1 by US News and World Report). I have a Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University.
I am a tax and civil litigation attorney in Brighton and an advocate for taxpayers in the United States Tax Court, United States District Court, Michigan Tax Tribunal and Supreme Court. I am a former clerk of the Michigan Tax Tribunal and the United States District Court.
Patch: What is the most important issue facing the county related to your position?
Wutz: The County Treasurer’s race is about credentials, protecting taxpayer dollars, and transparency of government. However the most important issue is the waste of taxpayer dollars that is occurring in the County’s investment portfolio and other managerial functions.
In the investment portfolio, the current treasurer admitted that I was correct by confessing that she is keeping $20 million in a non-interest bearing account and a different $20 million in investments that earn only ¼ of 1% in interest. Essentially, actual investment of our taxpayer dollars is being traded for $3,000 - $4,000 per month in an “earnings credit” which is used to partially offset bank fees. The County can conservatively earn an additional $50,000 per month by investing in different bonds, CDs, commercial paper, and money market accounts. Importantly, the current lack of investment strategy does not permit County funds to keep up with inflation, which reduces the County’s buying power and effectively loses principal.
The County Treasurer is charged with administering the tax foreclosure auction. Livingston Count joins only 11 of the 83 counties in Michigan that delegate their authority to the state to auction off property in Lansing. However, the state auction is not well publicized and information regarding what properties are being auctioned is sparse in comparison to other county auctions. To make matters worse for Livingston County, it does not appear that a link to the state tax auction is on the treasurer’s website, or that the auction is promoted at all.
Patch: What do you intend to do about it during your term in office?
Wutz: Once in office, I will build the foundation for the stable financial management of County funds and implement a conservative investment policy that will stop the loss of taxpayer dollars. A liquidity study with high predictability of our cash flows will be performed. After the core financial conditions of the County are properly identified an investment strategy that meets the directives of Public Act 20 and the board of commissioners’ resolution will be implemented. This will result in a $2.4 million savings to the taxpayers over a four-year period without the need to raise taxes.
I would being the process to bring the tax foreclosure auction in-house rather than give up local control of the sale of our property by letting the State auction our land in Lansing. We would have the ability to promote the sale and provide bidders with information about the properties. This will result in increased revenues to the county, without the need to raise taxes.
- I would provide governmental transparency by making the County finances available online.
- I would remove our common account from Bank of America.
- I would reverse the heavy investing in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- New thinking is needed to keep our county healthy and maximize the county’s ability to generate revenues without raising taxes in order to protect services and fund county salaries, health care and pensions. I am dedicated to ensuring that our County is healthy and taxpayer dollars are not wasted so that we can meet County financial obligations.