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Village Treasurer retires after 10 years



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Willa Smitko retired on Aug. 31. (click for larger version)
September 12, 2012 - What started as a temporary job in 2001 for Willa Smitko ended up being a job that would last more than 10 years.

Now, the finance director and treasurer for the Village of Lake Orion is calling it quits and retiring from her long time post in the downtown government. She will be replaced by two new part time workers, but her former colleagues will miss her.

"She's really valuable and I hate to see her go," said Village Supervisor Paul Zelenak. "I'm happy she is able to carry on her dream but all of us will miss her. Her knowledge and her ability to look forward and forecast is an asset in these tough financial times and she's been able to assist in being prepared fiscally. We've hired two competent people in replacing her but it's not just the professional relationships - it's the friendships she's developed while she's been here.

After taking the position on a temporary basis, Smitko started full time in April 2002. She liked the diversity of working for a small place and the many different tasks she had to accomplish. She said she will miss meeting the different citizens who visit the village and working beside the police department what she described as the great community that is Lake Orion.

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But she said the job has had it's downfalls too. The late 2000s saw the beginning of the economic crisis, meaning many eyes fell on those that handled money for organizations. The change in property values was the biggest change for her and despite positive predictions for future values, Smitko said a lag in taxes means the village won't benefit from increasing values for a couple years.

But days away from her retirement, Smitko was more focused on losing her connections with the people at the village.

"I'm going to miss the interactions, because obviously we're in pretty close quarters here so we know each other quite well," she said. "Just having that deeper connection with the community, knowing what's going on and having the inside scoop, is something I'll miss."

Smitko worked previously for a company that was eventually bought by Continental Tire. Before that she worked for a nonprofit after graduating from Walsh College. She plans to spend more time with her hobbies and her husband.

Her replacements will be Tresurer Shelly Lalla and Finance Director Alice Bryce.

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