Treasurer Chris Slusser reported to Madison County officials on Wednesday on the continued growth of its investments.
“We’ve nearly tripled our investment returns in the past 18 months,” Slusser said.
Slusser presented an investment report to the Finance and Government Operations Committee on showing the increase in investments that’s been made since he took office in December 2016.
“Our total holdings have increased from $148 million to $154 million,” said Slusser, a Republican who faces opposition for re-election next month from Democrat Chris Miller.
Slusser said he implemented changes in the management of the investment portfolio and it now earns more interest. As a former investment advisor, Slusser noticed yield opportunities were missed because of a lack of diversification, below-market rates on money markets and a passive management approach.
“I diversified the portfolio and increased municipal bond holdings,” he said
Negotiations with banks and rising interest rates resulted in increasing the interest rate on the county’s money market accounts, which are up around 400 percent in the past 18 months.
“We benchmarked things to the U.S. Treasury Yield,” Slusser said. “The 10-year treasury yield is at 3 percent. Most of our investments are two to three years maturities, yet we are earning 3.15 percent. So we are outperforming the benchmark by a wide margin.”
He said the bottom line is the portfolio would generate more than $3.5 million in income during the next 12 months, up more than $2 million from 2016. In January, Slusser projected the county to earn $2.3 million in its investments, however those forecasts grew well beyond what he anticipated.
The county is now set to earn more than $2.7 million in 2018.
“What this means is there is more money in the portfolio and it lightens the burden on property taxes,” he said. “Things are looking good.”
Auditor Rick Faccin complimented Slusser for the job he’s done with county investments.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Faccin said. “The level of cooperation we have with the Treasurer is good. I want to compliment (Slusser) on the job he’s done.”
Faccin said earlier this year when Slusser presented the investment report he should be applauded for creating new revenue without raising taxes. He said it was apparent that Slusser had a great deal of expertise when it came to investments.
“I have to say, there’s a real professional effort here” he said.