DIXON – The city’s finance director wants to take her 2 decades of government accounting experience to the county level.
Finance Director Paula Meyer is running for the Lee County Treasurer’s seat being vacated by longtime Treasurer John Fritts, who announced in September that he won’t be seeking re-election after 22 years in the position.
The 53-year-old Republican was hired by the city 5 years ago to clean up the financial mess left behind by former City Comptroller Rita Crundwell, who stole $53.7 million from the city across 20 years.
She developed a system with more oversight and organization while also giving direction on what to do with the recovery funds the city received after the Crundwell scandal. Her top priorities were paying off about $21 million in debt and establishing a safety net of reserve funds.
“Things are in really good shape here,” she said Monday. “The bottom line is healthy, and the policies are in a good place.”
She joined the city’s ranks and left her job as dean of business services at Sauk Valley Community College drawn by the challenge of essentially building a new financial system from scratch, and she said she wants to bring her “years of experience in implementing sound accounting practices and procedures” to the county.
“The county has some big financial challenges coming up,” she said.
Those challenges include state cuts and dwindling revenue from the landfill, and Meyer said streamlining operations with software and other technology can help save money and increase transparency in the office.
She has been an accountant for 27 years and started her 22-year run working in government finance as Sauk’s controller in 1995.
Meyer plans to officially announce her candidacy at noon today at Heritage Crossing, next to the Ronald Reagan statue.
“Paula has the experience the county needs right now,” County Board Vice Chairwoman Marilyn Shippert said in a news release Monday. “She will be able to fulfill the duties of treasurer on day one.”
Meyer lives on a farm in southwest Lee County, about 5 miles outside of Amboy, with her husband, Don. They have two children, Eva and Paul.
She is running against fellow Republican Melissa Lawrence, 35, who has worked in the treasurer’s office for 13 years and became chief deputy in March. She has drafted the county budget the past few years, and Fritts endorsed her run in September.