SOUTH HAVEN — After seven months without a full-time finance director, the city of South Haven now has one.
Michelle Argue will begin her new duties July 1, after serving as the department’s interim director. Her annual salary has been set at $85,000.
Argue is no stranger to the city. She served as deputy finance director since 2015 and assessor since 2017, according to City Manager Brian Dissette. Prior to that position, she worked as a fiscal accountant for Kinexus.
“Twenty-six applied for the position,” Dissette said. “Michele has proven time and again that she will work as long as needed to get reports and other items completed on time. She is committed to her department and the city administration.”
Argue obtained her bachelor degree in business administration from Western Michigan University, majoring in accountancy and minoring in management and general business. She is also a Michigan Advanced Assessing Officer.
When she’s not at work, Argue volunteers at the Berrien County Youth Fair and serves as treasurer for Cub Scout Pack 663.
Argue replaces Wendy Hochstedler, who was fired in November 2018 for allegedly taking funds from the city.
In February, the city filed a lawsuit in Van Buren Circuit Court against her and Daniel J. Beck.
The 10-count lawsuit alleges that between August 2015 and November 2018, Hochstedler and Beck, who lived at Hochstedler’s home, accumulated $138,216 in personal purchases using city-issued credit cards. Hochstedler is also being accused of taking a city-owned conference table with two base legs from her office when she was fired.
Results of the lawsuit are still pending. On June 5, a pretrial conference took place in which Judge David DiStefano asked the two parties to come up with possible court dates for the next hearing, according to Circuit Court records.
“The city continues to work toward the completion of this lawsuit,” Dissette said.
In another finance department-related move, the city has hired Carol Stricklin as assistant finance director.
Stricklin began her job part-time earlier this month and will become full-time in July after retiring as South Haven Public Schools, where she serves as lead accountant. Prior to that, she worked as the school district’s business office supervisor from 2008-2017. She has an associate’s degree in applied business from Lake Michigan College, where she majored in accounting.
Stricklin is very active in the community and has served with the South Haven Rams Booster Club, Shoreline Breakers Soccer Club and American Youth Soccer Organization.