MARCH 14 COUNTY TREASURY POOL MEETING
March 14 County Treasury Pool Meeting
Yesterday, March 14, at 1 pm, Mendocino County Treasurer, Shari Schapmire, convened a "Round Table Discussion" of the Mendocino County Treasury Pool.
We met in Conference C at the County Administration Center on Low Gap Road.
The agenda included the following items:
- Introduction of New Investment Adviser -- Chandler Asset Management
- Update on the Economy and Financial Markets
- Chandler's Investment Strategy
- County Treasurer's Investment Policy
- Interest Rate Apportionment Rates
- Costs Associated with the Treasury Pool
- Banking Services
- Additional Topics of Interest
Four of the five members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) were in attendance: Dan Hamburg, John McCowen, John Pinches, and Dan Gjerde. Supervisor Brown was absent.
This was a Brown Act meeting that was properly was noticed.
Also attending the meeting were 40-50 members of the public. The meeting was also videotaped for community television.
My takeaways include the following:
- Chandler is doing a good job for a reasonable fee. Chandler earned a 61-basis point return for last quarter on the consolidated portfolio. On a risk-adjusted basis, this is better than our previous money manager (Abalone Cove Advisers). Meanwhile, Chandler only charges the county about $16,200 in annualized fees, which includes Bloomberg and most other services.
- Chandler also diversified the holdings in the treasury pool from approximately 20 holdings to about 80 holdings. Our holdings were expanded to include U.S. Treasury securities and federal agency securities. In diversifying the holdings, the average size per holding went from approximately $5 million to $1-2 million per holding.
- The diversification has resulted in a much more level "interest rate apportionment rate". More level interest, and less volatility, is a good thing.
- Fitch, the bond rating company, had previously noted that Mendocino County had some performance issues with the treasury pool, hence the switch to Chandler.
- The County Treasurer's Investment Policy puts its highest priorities as "safety, liquidity, and yield."
- Chandler staggers the maturities of our county's holdings in a Ladder" fashion. The average duration is 0.86 years. The average coupon is 0.74%. The Average Purchase Yield to Maturity (YTM) is 0.46 %. The average Market YTM is 0.35 %. The Average Final Maturity is 1.0 year. The Average Life is 0.90 years.
- The Average S&P/Moody Rating is AA/Aa2.
- Approximately 10.7 % of the portfolio is only rated A by S&P, and 42.9% of the portfolio is Unrated.
- As of 1/13/13, the market value of the treasury pool was $212,906,082, which includes accrued interest of $367,075.
- The top issuers in in treasury pool are: Local Agency Investment Fund (24.7%), Custodial Checking Account (10.2 5), Government of the United States of America (9.2%), Federal Home Loan Bank (7.0%), Federal National Mortgage Association(6.5%), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (5.7%), Federal Farm Credit Bank (5.2%), and Bank of Montreal Chicago (4.9%).
- Chandler's investment advisory fees represents only a small portion of the total costs for administering the treasury pool. Chandler's annualized fees of $16.200 is dwarfed by $246,000 in annual costs that the County Treasurer's Office will charges off to the treasury pool in 2012-2013. Of the $246,000 amount, 65% of the County Treasurer's salary and benefits of $155,200 was charged off to the treasury pool.
- Approximately 43.3 % of f the total staff time at the Treasury Office was spent on treasury pool business.
- Other costs included "variable costs" for Bank of America -- about $10,026 per quarter -- and lesser dollar amounts for Mellon Bank and Savings Bank of Mendocino, for custody and clearing services. After an RFP conducted last year, Bank of America was retained.
- Total pool costs are about 0.00165 per $100.
- The County Treasurer emphatically stated that "socially responsibility" is not a factor in making treasury pool investments. Her only criteria were "safety, liquidity, and yield".
- Treasury pool holdings include; 2.33 % of the portfolio in Barclays Bank (responsible for the LIBOR rate manipulation scandal); 0.70 % of the portfolio in Wells Fargo Bank (responsible for "robo foreclosures"); 0.60% of the portfolio in General Electric (a major defense contractor); and 0.47 5 of the portfolio in Wal-Mart Stores (an anti-union shop and the defendant in a gender discrimination class action lawsuit filed in federal court by many of the women who work for Wal-Mart).
- Members of the public were outraged that the treasury pool included these controversial holdings.
- Members of the public respectfully suggested to the County Treasurer that a county bank, if approved by the BOS, would be a good way to make socially responsible investments in the treasury pool. A county bank could also earn the administrative fees of approximately a quarter million dollars that currently charged off to the County Treasurer's Office. This could help fund the operation of a county bank.
- Public banking is already working in the United States (the State of North Dakota) , and 20 states are currently considering some form of public banking legislation. A county-owned, county-operated bank would be a public bank.
- The Public banking Conference, "Funding The New Economy", will take place on June 2-4, in San Rafael, CA, at Dominican University. The event is hosted by the Public Banking Institute, the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project, New Montana, Dominican University's Green MBA, the Vermont Partnership Bank, and the Washington Investment Trust.