During the annual meeting of the Clay County Board of Finance Monday, Clay County Treasurer Debbie James said interest rates continue to fall.
"The rates have been under 1 percent for quite a while," she said. "I think we may have had a couple over 1 percent in 2009, but there weren't any even close to that in 2010."
James added the two highest rates the county was able to secure on any 2010 investment were 0.72 and 0.63 percent.
"Before we invest any of the county's money, we check with all the banks to ensure we get the best rate, and we check the bank ratings to make sure the money is safe," James said. "Also, we look at all the county's outlays to see exactly how much we could invest at any given time."
Clay County Commissioner Jack Withers, who previously served as county treasurer, inquired if the rates would be higher if the county utilized the state's investment system.
"The state's rates are not any better than the local rates," James responded.
While Certificates of Deposit (CD) interest rates are low, rates on the county's checking accounts are even lower.
"Harris Bank currently has an interest rate on checking at 0.39 percent, which is the highest in the area right now," James said.
With some banks still struggling, a new law is going into effect to help protect public funds even further.
"I am still finding out all the details, but from what I understand any bank wanting to hold public funds would have to collateralize," James said.
She added the Public Deposit Insurance Fund (PDIF) helps protect public funds above the $250,000 threshold covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Acknowledging the difficulty in getting a good investment return in down economic times, Withers also praised James for her diligence in doing the best she can.
"You do a very credible job as treasurer," Withers told James. "Although interest rates are pretty much rock bottom, I appreciate that you take a great interest in your job."