Officials: Local governments’ money secure

RBC — Individuals invested in the stock market aren’t the only ones who are worried about their life savings.
Government entities are also closely watching their investments.
“To this point, it’s business as usual, with no indications RBC’s securities are in danger,” said Karen Arnold, Rio Blanco County treasurer. “RBC has always been very conservative in its investments, sometimes receiving criticism. But we are still accruing interest on CDs and bank accounts, which are collateralized, and CCIT (County Capital Improvement Trust Fund) T-Notes, which are fully backed by the U.S. government.”
However, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been cause for concern, given the volatility of the market.
“I contacted Commissioner (Forrest) Nelson on Sept. 25 to inform him of only one instance that could have affected RBC, if we had had some funds invested there,” Arnold said. “The state of Colorado had three governmental asset pools. Many special districts, including counties, use asset pools as liquid asset investments. RBC uses COLOTRUST (Colorado Local Government Liquid Asset Trust). The one that went down was Colorado Diversified Trust.
“At one point, I had considered putting money into this pool, but did not,” Arnold said. “This asset pool’s troubles centered around 1.8 percent of their portfolio being in Lehman Brothers mortgage paper.”
A message on the COLOTRUST Web site says: “In light of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the financial markets, the board of trustees would like to assure you that we are carefully monitoring current market conditions …
Current market issues have not negatively impacted the safety and liquidity of COLOTRUST.”
Arnold has been keeping a close eye on the county’s investments, checking with brokers to keep up with rapidly changing events in the financial world.
“I have a broker I use to purchase T-Notes in the Denver Wachovia office,” Arnold said. “She called (Oct. 1) to say the securities side of the company, as opposed to the banking side, was not experiencing any troubles, but will be going through the changes as required by Citigroup, which just purchased Wachovia.
“This was much like a merger for the securities side,” Arnold added. “RBC does not have risk at Wachovia, as the purchased T-Notes are held in safekeeping at U.S. Bank.”
Other area government entities are also watching the markets closely.
“The town of Rangely’s investments appear to be very secure, at this point,” said Town Manager Peter Brixius. “And we are receiving routine updates about any internal fund movement to ensure consistent performance. It is something I have been watching closely.”
The same with the town of Meeker, said Town Administrator Sharon Day.
“I believe the town is fine,” Day said. “It’s investments are secured, in accordance with state statutes, including investments in certificates of deposits (at local banks) and COLOTRUST. We have contacted all three institutions and have letters assuring the town the investments are secure.
“The town has always been conservative — prioritizing safety, first — with its investments,” Day added.