Treasurer says county investments are safe

Forget about Wall Street’s roller coaster ride. Island County’s investments are safe, Island County Treasurer Linda Riffe said.

Recent reports about falling stock prices and troubled banks and investment firms has prompted calls to the county over its financial footing. The treasurer’s office has fielded calls from residents and officials in special taxing districts across the county.

“People were calling and wanting to know, is our money safe,” Riffe said.

The answer is simple, she said. Yes.

The county does invest in the Local Government Investment Pool, as well as certificates of deposit that are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, commonly known as the FDIC, up to $250,000. Investments over that limit are fully covered by the Washington Public Deposit Protection Act, Riffe said.

Riffe said the Local Government Investment Pool does not invest in stocks or commercial paper, only protected investments that are compliant with state law.

Part of the concern, Riffe said, follows from news last fall in King County when millions of public dollars were lost due to investments in commercial paper.

She said the county’s investments are strong, though interest rates have declined in recent times.

“We’re going to be OK. We’re not going to make any great big killings, but nobody is,” she said.

Riffe said she has a conservative approach to investing, and has not invested in commercial paper or stocks because of the risks involved.

“County investments are diversified and laddered, which puts us in a better position to ride out the downturns while providing a revenue stream. I closely monitor our investments as well as the economic forecasts and market conditions to be prepared for any adjustments necessary to protect county funds,” Riffe said.

She said she also monitors bank ratings frequently and only does business with solid banking institutions that have excellent ratings, such as the treasurer’s main bank, Key Bank, and Whidbey Island Bank and Banner Bank.

Key Bank, has recently received an A rating from Moodys, she added.

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