Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson will tout Oakland County's fiscal strength, economic development initiatives, use of technology and quality of life when he meets with representatives from Wall Street this week in an effort to retain Oakland County's AAA bond rating.
"Last year, Moody's said we aren't just among the best counties in the nation, it said we are the best," said Patterson. "We hope Oakland County will continue to garner such recognition from Wall Street after our presentation."
Accompanying Patterson will be Deputies County Executive Gerald Poisson, Robert Daddow and Phil Bertolini; Director of Management & Budget Laurie Van Pelt; John Axe of Axe & Ecklund, P.C., a Michigan law firm specializing in municipal financing; Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner; and Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch. They will appear before representatives of Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor's in Chicago.
Patterson, Van Pelt, Daddow and Poisson will talk about Oakland County's strong financial position and what it takes to maintain it. The county's prudent fiscal management includes:
- Low debt
- A healthy fund balance
- A balanced three-year rolling budget
- A quarterly financial forecast
"Our mission is to resolve any fiscal distress placed on Oakland County without reliance on fee or tax increases for existing services, or one-time budgetary transactions and places emphasis on stable services provided directly to the public through continuous restructuring of operations," Daddow said.
Part of the county's fiscal strength comes from incremental structural changes to employee health care and retirement benefits.
"Oakland County continues to implement incremental, yet significant, changes to our employee benefit package over time resulting in immediate savings and huge savings in future cost avoidance,” Poisson said.
The County's OakFit wellness program, recently featured in national news, will be one of the programs highlighted as a contributor toward saving Oakland County taxpayers more than $12 million in health care cost avoidance.
Patterson and Bertolini will highlight the administration's job growth and retention strategies and use of technology to improve the efficiency of county operations.
Oakland County continues to see success in key economic development programs:
- Emerging Sectors, which targets the 10 fastest growing sectors of the region's economy, is expected to reach the $2 billion investment mark this year.
- Medical Main Street, a program to market Oakland County as a destination for the life sciences, will receive more than a $3 billion dollar annual boost after the opening of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine this summer.
- Alternative energy, Oakland County's second fastest growing sector, will take deeper root in the county with the opening of the Advanced Energy Efficiency Center of Excellence, the Clean Energy Research Center at Oakland University and the completion of an alternative energy target market analysis.
- Automation Alley, a regional technology business consortium of more than 1,000 businesses, educational institutions and government entities across eight counties and the City of Detroit, celebrates its 12th year in 2011.
- The Economic Growth Alliance aligns common interests to affect legislation, economic development and planning across Oakland, Livingston, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair and Macomb counties.
Oakland County also focuses on small business development through programs such as Main Street Oakland County; various forms of small business assistance from finance and strategy consulting to a microloan program; and providing access to loan programs for fixed asset financing.
Oakland County develops and uses technology to improve the delivery of services to its residents and businesses; and it shares this technology with other governments across the region and state. Some examples include:
- Cloud computing, which will position county applications in cyber space for others to use for a nominal fee
- Wireless Oakland, which will provide free internet access in some rural sections of the county through a private-public partnership
- Transparency - Oakland County uses technology to make it easier for residents to access public information online and to engage county government
"Oakland County is reinventing the way we do business through enabling technologies," said Bertolini.
Quality of Life
Oakland County is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family. Its 910 square miles includes 88,000 acres of parkland, 900 miles of shoreline, and 14,000 lakes, rivers and streams. Patterson has initiated many quality of life programs to improve the health and lifestyles of Oakland County's more than 1.2 million residents such as Count Your Steps; The Brooksie Way Half Marathon & 5k Race; The Brooksie Way Minigrants; The Fire & Ice Festival in Rochester; The Oakland Edge Hockey Tournament; and Arts, Beats & Eats, among others.
"Oakland County is a place where people can live, work, and play while enjoying the benefits of a well-run government and strong local communities," said Patterson. "The community is important and the programs of Oakland County will help sustain our growth in jobs, technology and population."
For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Media and Communications Officer, at (248) 858-1048.