City Finance Director Retires, Widely Praised

Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 4:14 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Photo courtesy City of East Lansing.

Following seventeen years of service to the people of East Lansing, Finance Director Mary Haskell has retired as of the end of 2016. ELi attempts in its work to represent various points of view on any given story, but in the case of Haskell, there seems to be unanimity: she appears to be universally viewed as having been meticulous, transparent, and truly dedicated to public service.

Haskell has told ELi and City Council that she plans to become politically active in her retirement from government service. On December 6, 2016, Haskell told Council, “My time with the City has been wonderful.” She praised the City’s departmental directors for “all being so passionate about what they do.”

Haskell also praised the people of East Lansing: “The citizens here are wonderful. They’re so engaged in the process, so that has been a joy to working here, and I will miss it.” That said, she indicated she would enjoy being with her grandchildren, and, she said, “We’re also going to be very involved politically, in activism,” something she said she had been looking forward to.

Asked about Haskell, Mayor Mark Meadows, who has had a long career in Michigan government, tells ELi, “She is tops.” He adds, “I cannot remember a time the City did not receive an annual award for excellence in our Finance Department. I don't expect that to change but Mary is the main reason we have continued to receive the award. Nothing escapes her attention and better yet, she doesn't sugarcoat anything. I don't think we could have had a better Finance Director.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier, a labor economist, agrees, telling ELi, “Mary Haskell has been the city's guiding light through the immense fiscal pressure of the last eight years. Her five-year financial plans, adroit debt refinancing, and no-nonsense attitude have saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and helped us maintain our bond rating. She will be missed.”

Haskell graduated from MSU with high honors in 1986, and in 1998 received her CPA license from the State of Michigan. She began work with the City of East Lansing in 1999 and was promoted to Finance Director in 2005.

According to the City’s Communications Department, “During the more than 10 years that Haskell has served as director, the Finance Department has annually received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Additionally, Haskell has received several other awards and recognitions, including a letter of commendation from the City in 2000 for excellent work during her first year as the deputy treasurer, a letter of recognition from the City in 2001 for her work on the National Folk Festival, a Certificate of Achievement from the East Lansing Public Schools in 2003 for her work on the ELPS Budget Information Committee and the City’s 2003 Employee of the Year Award.”

“Mary has been a consummate professional and a leader in her field. It has been a pleasure to work alongside her all of these years and we wish her all the best in retirement,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas in the City’s press release.