The Washington Times-Herald

February 18, 2014

County adds new investment policy

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — After years of doing things the exact same way and seeing diminishing returns, Daviess County officials have decided to try something different with their investments. Daviess County’s taxing units often have millions of dollars sitting in the bank and normally that money sits in either certificates of deposit or a checking account. While both draw some interest, low rates of return have led the county to taking a different approach.

“Interest rates are very low,” said Daviess County Treasurer Elaine Wellman. “We have found that by using a cash management fund we should be able to increase our returns.”

Daviess County has seen its return on investments fall steadily over the last three years. In 2010 the county made $154,000 in interest, $104,000 in 2011, and $70,000 in 2012, and in 2013 interest generated only $68,000. “It keeps coming down because the interest rates keep dropping,” said Wellman.

The cash management fund will allow the county to invest a portion of its money into bonds that are guaranteed by the government or insured by F.D.I.C. “This will go into a pool of multiple funds,” said Wellman. “We are not going to put all of our money in there. At the most maybe two-fifths of the available cash. I want to be cautious with this. We want to make sure it is liquid enough that we can access the county’s money and that most of all it is safe.”

At the same time the county wants to see if it can get a better return on its investment dollars. “We will continue to bid out C.D.s to local financial institutions,” explained Wellman. “This will give us other options. We feel we can raise the interest we receive from point-17 percent to around point-65 percent.”

Daviess County is not the first government agency in Indiana to make the switch. South Bend has reported some positive changes as well by adding a cash management fund.

Officials point out that good investments do have an impact on both what the county can do and on the taxes that people pay. “With the tax caps we’re limited to what we can tax,” said Wellman. “The better investments we can make the more it helps everybody by keeping the tax rates down. To do that we sometimes have to be inventive in the ways we raise money.”