Investments safe, for now
October 21, 2008
Unlike some municipalities in Utah, Summit County is still in the black despite a downturn in the national economy. That was the message last week from County Treasurer Glen Thompson, who briefed the Summit County Commission about the budget.
"We have, day to day, been able to take care of our responsibilities We’re doing well, relatively speaking," Thompson said. "We haven’t had any problems as far as paying the bills."
A government investment pool at the Office of the Utah State Treasurer has taken some hits as financial markets have recently fluctuated, Thompson explained, adding that Summit County has about $25 million invested in the state pool.
"The investments that they have are the big names that you hear on the news every day and they have had some problems," Thompson said.
Still, the pool’s rates are tough to beat, he said.
"Brokers and people from other entities say they cannot beat the state pool," Thompson said. "Right now I have investments in the state treasurer’s pool and a lot of banks in the county. We try to make sure we have a balance as far as our investments."
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But the state may restrict how much money governments can withdraw from the pool, Thompson said.
"We received notice two or three weeks ago that, unfortunately, wasn’t a lot of good news," Thompson said. "If a major entity were to go to the state treasurer’s pool and ask for a major withdrawal, they would be told ‘No.’"
The state investment pool has not had a problem with liquidity, Thompson stressed.
"Liquidity hasn’t been an issue because they are only allowing the entities to take out what they need in order to take care of their responsibilities," he said.
With businesses bracing for the slumping economy to impact register receipts this winter, Thompson doesn’t expect tax coffers to greatly suffer in the short-term.
"We are going to go about the business as usual," Thompson said. "We see no reason to panic at this time, but I hope the good news starts coming instead of the bad news."
Should the County Commission need to cut the budget a recession plan approved this year envisions slashing funding in each department by about 20 percent.
"We’re going to be affected just like the rest of the country is," Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said. "We’re not going to be the exception."