MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Board of Commissioners had a light day of meetings Thursday as one member was engaged elsewhere on county business. Commissioner Allen Stockberger traveled Thursday to the East Coast in an effort to promote Knox County to the leading financial markets in New York City. It is hoped that this financial lobbying will result in the county’s bond rating being raised, thus helping the county secure funding for long-term projects such as the decentralized wastewater plants needed for several of the county’s unincorporated hamlets.
Tim Rieder of U.S. Bank’s government banking division in Columbus stopped by to introduce himself and offer his, and his institution’s, service to Knox County. Rieder, a vice president of the company, has previously worked for the State Treasurer’s Office in Columbus and also has a background in information technology, and has worked to unite the two. Though he is still based in a Columbus office, Rieder and his wife, who is from Mount Vernon originally, moved here in April.
He explained that he works with a division specifically tailored to the requirements of government financing, which require that each invested dollar be guaranteed by the bank setting aside $1.05. Keeping investments collateralized secures the government funds, but also makes it less lucrative, therefore many banks do not seek government work, particularly with the rising costs brought on by bank failures during the current economic downturn, Rieder said. But he added that unlike many other banks, U.S. Bank did not pursue the risky subprime mortgage investments which led to the recession, thus they are more geared toward low-yield but low-risk business, which has been its foundation since the bank’s founding in the 1860s.
“We work inside a box, and we don’t go outside that box,” Rieder said.
Commissioner Robert Wise asked Rieder why certain banks at unpredictable times will suddenly offer better rates on certificates of deposit to the county, which happened to the county once last year. Rieder said that such situations usually mean that the bank in question has a large loan pending to someone and is trying to quickly gather funds. As the county has a certificate of deposit for $1,000,000 coming up on March 19, Wise invited U.S. Bank to quote a rate.
“Our CD rates are probably not real attractive now,” Rieder said, “Because people aren’t coming in to get loans.” But he said he would like to quote a rate to see where U.S. Bank falls among other competing banks which service Knox County. He also invited the commissioners to use him as a financial information resource and to let him know if they had any needs in terms of financing, treasury management or investment management.