HARRISON COUNTY, TX – As of Monday’s Harrison County Commissioner’s Court meeting, and the signature of all five commissioners, Treasurer Jamie Noland will have to make Treasury Bill investments that have been causing issues within the Investment Committee.
Back in February, the county had more than $12 Million in its account, so the other members of the committee recommended the treasury bills as a method to make additional gains. Those members are County Judge Hugh Taylor and County Auditor Becky Haynes.
Judge Taylor said because Noland did not make the investment, it has prevented the county from making money. Investing money, however, is required under the Public Funds Investment Act.
“The investment strategy in the policy requires that the funds be swept from the depository to an interest bareing account. We should not have found that there was millions and millions of dollars sitting in a checking account, and bringing it to the attention of the court has basically made things happen,” said Judge
Noland said she did not make that investment, because she believes it could have hurt the county. According to Noland, the area has spent the vast majority of it’s surplus, costs are going up, and those among other things., so the county needs access to the money. The valuations of the properties along with oil and gas industry valuations have stayed the same or gone down. The county has had to pay for things like road work and construction. They have also built a new jail and hired employees to work within the facility. Plus the county needs to be prepared for any incidentals like medical costs for employees. “They budget x amount of dollars for insurance. So if it turns out that you have you know, several people with catastrophic illnesses that’s not budgeted for, I mean, that could be a big hit,” said Noland.
The Investment Comittee wanted to put $3 Million into a six month treasury bill and another $3 Million in a three month treasury bill. Judge Taylor said Noland’s outlook is completely false. You can purchase them one morning and sell them within a 24 hour period if you wanted. At times you can even make money before treasury bills mature. He says this is one of the safest investments. “It’s an effective way to collect a safe return for the tax payer and we budget for that interest return in our budget. So we need the revenue because we budget for revenue in that line.”
Furthermore Judge Taylor said Harrison County’s finances are stable. They reported the largest cash balance since 2015; they’ve exceeded the fund balance policy which is 90 to 120 days of operating; and the road and bridge plus juvenile funds are solid. “She hasn’t taken a look at the 17-18 certified roles and she hasn’t looked at the budget. I’ve got a certified estimate that shows oil and gas properties going up 4.5%.It’s just a lack of knowledge of what’s going on around the budget procedure and i’m the chief budget officer.”
Again, those details are contrary to the county treasurer’s perspective who expressed financial woes. “We had spent our surplus down; why they had to finally raise taxes. And you know, they didn’t want to do it then but it was an absolute necessity,” said Noland.