Commission looks for more interest

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

Seeing better rates as a possible windfall, Roosevelt County commissioners approved longer term investment of a portion of its reserve funds Tuesday.

Roosevelt County Treasurer Nancy Belcher told commissioners at their regular meeting that she had checked into longer terms at the urging of Commissioner Gene Creighton. She said her investigation revealed that a one-year rate on government-backed bonds at a local bank is 3.20 percent while a five-year is 5.20 percent.

“Who knows what the rates are going to do,” Belcher said. “Your rates are better but your money is going to be locked up.”

Creighton urged commissioners to give Belcher the authority to make the longer term investment.

“I’m not talking about putting it all in there,” Creighton said. “But right now we could be earning (almost) twice as much.”

Belcher said because the principal could never be lost, she was comfortable in investing up to $1 million of the $4.937 million in reserves in longer term programs.

“I don’t know why we don’t go even stronger than that,” Creighton said.

Belcher said she would “ladder” the investment so that a portion will become available for use every year. If the rates were holding up well, she said another $1 million would be maturing in the next few months and she could check back with commissioners about investing it that way as well.

Commissioners also approved a bid for Phase II of the Elida water system improvements ,which are being paid for with a Community Development Block Grant from the state.

The bid of $505,490 from White Cloud Pipeline of Roswell was close to $140,000 over engineer’s estimates, according to Town Clerk Sandra Monks. If the project is rebid, it would put the county in the postion of being unable to apply for further CDBG money while the project is still open, she said. With material prices rising, officials also worry that the bid might continue to get more expensive.

“Our (Village) trustees would like to accept this bid rather than rebid and make it where the county couldn’t apply for CDBG money,” Monks said.
She said the Elida trustees had agreed to dip into their reserves to come up with as much of the shortfall as they fiscally could.
In other business commissioners:

• Approved a safety training completion incentive of one paid day off for county employees.

• Renewed a contract for lobbying services with Mike Miller. The contract is for $25,000 annually plus direct expenses.

• Amended the county personnel policy affecting overtime and compensatory pay for public safety employees. The change will allow the sheriff’s office to take advantage of funding for extra hours worked under grant money such as the Region V Drug Task Force. They also amended the policy for holidays, requiring employees to bank a holiday and use at department head’s discretion if it falls on a regular day off.

• Approved the audit report for 2006-2007.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in regard to reserving the right to offer input on the Mexican Wolf Project.

• Approved a joint powers agreement with Eddy County for housing juvenile prisoners in that county at a rate of $120 per day.

• Approved a joint powers agreement with Curry County to house adult prisoners at the Roosevelt County Detention Center at the rate of $55 per day.

• Approved one indigent claim for $10,753.

• Heard a plan to move fairboard office staff out of the Roosevelt County Extension office and into an office at the Jake Lopez Center. Alterations to the building could cost as much as $5,000.

Commissioners said the fairboard could work directly with County Manager Charlene Hardin if additional money is needed to fund the project.