County investments pay off

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— It looks as if Routt County's new investment gurus are paying off.

The county is reporting it has earned $1.34 million in interest off its portfolio last year. In 1999, the county earned only $1.05 million off its portfolio under the direction of its treasurer.

Since then, the county hired the Denver-based MBIA Municipal Investors Service Corp.

After evaluating the county's portfolio, MBIA began investing for the county in January 2000.

Two of its managers were in town Tuesday to go over the 2000 figures with the County Commissioners.

Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon, who oversees the county's investments, was elected to office and began serving in 1999. She believed an investment firm would help the county earn more money.

"More and more treasurers are turning to partnerships with management companies so they can achieve higher yields with the same safety and liquidity," Whiddon said.

"Liquidity is important because you need money to pay your bills."

MBIA specializes in managing public funds and is currently managing $4 billion in public assets.

MBIA has expanded the county's investment options, Whiddon said.

The county had previously been invested in local government pools (COLOtrust), money market accounts and certificates of deposit.

MBIA has added longer-term investments to the portfolio, including commercial paper, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and U.S. Treasury Securities.

Ned Connolly, a vice president with MBIA, requested the commissioners give the group the leeway to invest in even longer-term investments (up to five years) so the company can take advantage of higher yields.

He said the bulk of Routt County's investments are still short term and easy to turn into cash.

The city of Steamboat Springs has been using MBIA since 1991.

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