During the annual meeting of the Clay County Board of Finance Monday, Clay County Treasurer Debbie James said current interest rates are even lower than at this point in 2009.
"We are trying to do a little more longer-term investing because the rates are a little better," James said. "With Flagstar Bank, we can get a rate of 0.63 percent for a six-month term, but it would go down to 0.3 percent for a longer term. Also, we recently received a bid on a 30-day term from another bank with a 0.08 percent interest rate."
In 2007, the average interest rate on county investments was 5 percent, but after the economy took its downturn, interest rates dropped drastically, which James said was evident in 2009.
"The county received approximately $325,000 from interest in 2008," James said. "However in 2009, the return on the county's investments was not quite $96,000."
James added the ability to look at options outside the county has helped somewhat, but with low rates across the board, no one option stands above the others.
"When looking to invest county funds, I always contact Fifth Third Bank, Flagstar Bank, Riddell National Bank, First Financial Bank and Terre Haute Savings Bank," she said. "The problem is that right now, the rates usually go from bad to worse."
Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders agreed the current economic atmosphere makes it difficult to get a decent return on investments.
"Interests rates are not just low for county government, but also for everyone trying to make personal investments," Sinders said. "But, with the budget situation the county has, every little bit we can get will be beneficial."
James told The Brazil Times the county could get a higher interest rate on investments with one-year terms, but that is typically reserved for county funds with a substantial balance.
"The six-month term is good for us because it ends in time to make the semi-annual disbursements and property tax distribution," James said. "Right now, there really aren't any funds healthy enough to make an investment with a term of a year."
Commissioner Jack Withers -- who served as Treasurer before becoming a commissioner in April 2007 -- commended James for her hard work.
"Debbie was my deputy when I was treasurer and she is one of the most efficient people I have worked with in my life," Withers said. "The economy is tough right now, but I know she is doing what she can to make the best out of the situation."