Weatherford Democrat

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February 25, 2014

Treasurer’s investment policy on hold

By JUDY SHERIDAN

A investment policy for Parker County — proported to help boost county revenues by tens of thousands of dollars — drew discussion but not approval from County Judge Mark Riley and commissioners Monday, less than a week before primary elections.

According to recently appointed Parker County Treasurer Jenny Barnwell, a candidate for office and the revised policy’s author, the proposed policy is more flexible than the current one.

The policy would use investment vehicles like U.S. Treasury bonds and notes, in addition to the county’s two money market accounts, she said.

Those two accounts together netted around $6,000 for the county in 2012, Barnwell told the Democrat, while a laddered, structured portfolio — offered by one of the county’s current dealers — would allow the county to move “from .03 percent to .5 percent or better, she said, yielding “a little over $100,000 per year, based on $3.5 million.” 

The proposed policy meets the standards set by the state in the Public Funds Investment Act, according to Barnwell, offering safety as well as liquidity. It includes the percentages of the different investment vehicles the county can hold, as well as their maturity limits, she said. 

“If we wanted to buy treasury notes, bonds or bills, we can hold them up to three years,” she told the Democrat. “If we want to do a fully collateralized repurchase agreement, we can hold those for 90 days.”

In addition, the proposed policy requires broker dealers who want to do business with the county to provide company financials, she said, ensuring they have “as deep pockets as we do.”

Her policy has been reviewed by the Texas Association of Counties and county financial adviser First Southwest, the treasurer told the court, as well as the legal departments of three other entities that write policy.  

When Barnwell asked commissioners to approve the policy, Judge Mark Riley said that the court — who he said was ultimately responsible — should look at “controlling it a little more,” and suggested an internal investment review team including the county auditor and attorney.

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