MOUNT VERNON — Officials met Monday to review rates for Knox County’s investments. Having ended the practice of using a professional investment counselor to guide the county’s investments into low-risk certificate of deposits and money market funds, Knox County Treasurer Sandy Mizer and the Board of Commissioners split up the work of reviewing public investment rates.
Commissioner Robert Wise reported he received quotes from three contenders: Farmer Citizens Bank in Fredericktown, the Peoples Bank of Gambier and Fifth-Third Bank. Wise said Farmer Citizens’ rate for a deposit of $1 million, regardless of duration of the CD, is 1 percent. Fifth-Third Bank offered a 12-month rate of 1.4 percent, and the Peoples Bank of Gambier offered 1.5 percent. Mizer said she was surprised to hear of the Peoples Bank entry into public funds investments, an area in which the bank previously declined to deal. She noted that the bank has a high reputation for financial solidity. The other banks’ quotes confirmed their collateralization for investments to the officials.
Mizer said First-Knox National Bank offered a rate of 1.25 percent for a $1 million deposit, and a 1.4 percent rate for an investment split into four deposits of $250,000 each, complete with nine pages of documentation identifying the split investment as being under the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service. The Killbuck Savings Bank in Danville offered a 1.21 percent rate. She said the Ohio Heritage Bank had no interest in regular CDs of public money, but offered a rate of 1.49 percent for CDARS. Key Bank quoted 0.79 percent for a 12-month CD, going up to 1.61 percent for an 18-month CD.
Mizer said she would not recommend committing to an 18-month rate, considering the current volatility of the economy. Commissioner Allen Stockberger agreed, noting that an 18-month CD wouldn’t give the county any interest income from that investment during the current financial year. Mizer said it was also important as handlers of the county’s money that they check all of the banks for collateralization, which is the stated assurance that the bank can cover the amount of money being invested.
Commissioners Stockberger and Teresa Bemiller investigated the private investment rates at Huntington Bank (1.73 percent) and Discover Bank (1.98 percent). They asked Mizer to contact these banks about their public investment rates to compare with the other quotes received.
Regarding why the county did not “cash in” some of these investments to allay the hard times afflicting many county agencies, Stockberger said the reason is because the investments, totaling in excess of $20 million, are not General Fund moneys. More than half of the investment funds are the county’s self-funded insurance program, while other significant portions include developmental disability funds and Knox County Park District funds.
The investment of these funds allows some interest to be collected, which can go into the general fund, but the principal funds are not eligible to be cashed in, as they are already in play for other departments and/or programs.
After review, the county officials selected the Peoples Bank of Gambier for the next CD, at a 1.5 percent rate, returning monthly interest payments to the county.
In other business, the commissioners attended an FAA safety seminar at the Knox County Airport and took a tour of county-maintained drainage ditches in southern and southeast parts of the county with Rob Clendening, director of the Knox Soil & Water Conservation District. Stockberger said the floodwater-control ditches appear to be working well, but will require some routine maintenance in the next year.