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Granger fiscal officer looks back on 33 years of service

7/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Barbara Beach will retire July 31 after more than three decades as Granger Township’s fiscal officer.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
GRANGER — Barbara Beach has seen her share of changes, both in her position as fiscal officer for Granger Township and in the community itself, in the 33 years she has served.

“In 1980, we had a $200,000 budget,” said Beach, 71, who is preparing to retire at the end of the month. “Now it’s more than $4 million. We went from a rural to a suburban community, and we went from 20 miles of road to 34.”

That’s not all. When she became fiscal officer, or township clerk as it was called until 2005, her office was in her home because there was no place else for it.

“I had no room for anything,” she said. “We held our meetings in the fire station.”

That changed in 2000 when the township offices were opened in a new building on Ridge Road.

“It’s all paid for without debt, and we didn’t borrow anything to do that,” she said. “We built it for just over $1 million, which today no one would believe. We have a nice meeting room, records space, zoning office, trustees’ office, sexton’s office and storage.”

Beach is a native of Massachusetts who grew up in New Hampshire. She met her husband, Donald, a Medina County native, when he was in the U.S. Navy and stationed in New Hampshire. When they married 48 years ago, they moved to Medina and eventually settled in Granger in the home they still own.

In April 1980, Beach was surprised when one of the Granger trustees knocked on her door and asked if she would be interested in serving as the township clerk.

“I had been recommended, and it went from there,” she said.

The business college courses she had previously taken gave her what she needed to take on the job, which is essentially the business manager of the township, she said.

Beach’s duties include overseeing the township’s budget, complying with legal requirements for taking care of money, following good accounting practices, keeping all records, preparing payroll and issuing checks, she said.

The job is an elected position, so Beach has had to be on the ballot eight times since her appointment. She’s never had to campaign, however, because she’s never been opposed.

“I guess that meant everyone was pretty happy with the way things are going,” she said. “One year my husband made a sign, because he thought I should have one.”

Beach said the biggest challenge over the three decades has been the amount of growth in the township.

“More of everything means more time,” she said. “We have more roads, more people, more employees. The paperwork has increased voluminously over the years.”

Granger has evolved, and that’s also been a challenge, she said.

“[It’s a challenge to] keep up with what residents expect with regard to what they should receive for the amount of taxes they pay,” she said. “Residents don’t realize how little the township receives [from property taxes]. For each $1,000 of value, the township gets $5.60 and the school district gets $70.55.”

She said the township has managed to stay financially strong the past few years despite the weak economy.

“We weathered it OK, but we lost the estate tax money, and local government funds were decimated,” she said. “We are fiscally conservative.”

Beach said she only decided to retire a few months ago when she learned that changes to the Public Employees Retirement System would negatively affect her if she didn’t retire by July 31.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, or I wouldn’t still be here,” she said.

Granger Trustees hired her replacement, Donald Baker, at the June 24 board meeting. He will be on the job Aug. 1.

Beach said retirement will give her the chance to travel more to see her children, Heather, who lives in Texas, and Eric, who lives in Nebraska. Both graduated from Highland High School, she said. She also hopes to visit her mother, who will turn 96 in September, in North Carolina.

But leaving the job she has held so long won’t be easy, Beach said.

“There’s an awful lot of my life that is here,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of friends over the years and met a lot of people, and I will miss that.”

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