County board reviewing investment policy
Two county board members asked that the importance of local investment be included in the county’s revised investment policy.
Reviewing Hubbard County’s investment policy and strategy was the main focus of the county board’s work session Thursday. After making changes suggested by commissioners, the final draft of the policy will be on the agenda for approval at the Feb. 21 county board meeting.
Balancing local and outside investments
County administrator Jeff Cadwell explained that while the majority of the county’s money is invested locally, the board also needs to consider where they can get the best interest rate when making investment decisions.
Commissioners Tom Krueger and Char Chrisenson stated they would like to see wording that the county board supports local investing in the revised policy.
Cadwell said that change will be made before the final document is brought to the next county board meeting for approval.
Commissioner David De La Hunt said the county is looking at investing more cash on hand so it is earning a higher rate of interest instead of sitting in a checking account with very low interest.
The county is working with Ehlers, an investment broker with a manager to give the county advice to help make sure they maximize their returns. Cadwell said the county moved $4 million to Ehlers.
De La Hunt said the board needs to consider the deficit at Heritage Living (a senior facility operated by the county) when deciding how much cash to keep on hand. Christenson said they are seeing a positive trend at Heritage.
Cadwell suggested having one fund for the Heritage complex going back to Jan. 1 of this year to make it easier to see the whole picture. In the past, there have been separate reports for the nursing home, assisted living center and memory care units at Heritage.
According to a handout discussed at the meeting, the goals of public investment are security, cash flow and yield.
“Investment is a tool to leverage necessary fund balance to offset operational costs,” Cadwell explained. “Yield from investments is included as a revenue item on the current operational budget.”
Where is the money?
As of Jan. 31 2023 the county’s portfolio included:
- Citizens National Bank pooled investments of $14.5 million with an interest rate of 4.25-4.5%.
- $2 million in the PFM MAGIC fund.
- Ehlers-Pershing investment of $4 million with an interest rate of 4.25-4.5%.
- Operating cash $3.6 million with almost no interest.
- All other cash $4.5 million.
The county has approximately $29.1 million in cash in these accounts. This includes $8 million dollars in various checking accounts earning very little interest. The monthly average cash needs of the county are slightly over $3 million.
Pros and cons of investments“Local Investment means more money for local lending and provides predictable interest earnings,” Cadwell explained. “There is also an opportunity to invest more cash-on-hand, given the liquidity of the investment. However, local investing is time-consuming and requires shopping for the best rates, researching current rates, and attempting to understand future markets.
“Managed funds are invested to maximize yield, maximize invested funds and maintain cash on hand for daily operating needs.”
In other discussion the board:
- Reviewed committee assignments among current board members and those that may be most appropriate for whoever is elected to the commissioner position in District 4, including serving on a committee for the Akeley Trailhead Project.
- Discussed issues related to the county’s new Deep Lake Park including people breaking into the old building and the need for a security camera and needing to let bids soon so buildings can be razed this summer.
- Heard that the bid deadline for the Historical Society’s roof project is approaching.
- Discussed upgrading the county website.
- Heard that the land commissioner position is being reviewed and candidates for the IT position that opened Jan. 19 will be reviewed after applications close.
- Heard Krueger has received numerous calls about transportation issues, especially how to get rides in rural areas of the county.
- Heard from Christenson that the Hubbard County Food Shelf would benefit from a Facebook page to let people know when they have produce and other food they need to give out by an expiration date. It was also suggested that information about the food shelf be posted at the county-owned apartments.
- Heard from De La Hunt that in his opinion the current childcare bill does not address the underlying issues. “The daycare business model is broken,” he said.
The next regular county board meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the meeting room in the Hubbard County courthouse, with video broadcast on the county website.