As interest rates rise, so do county interest earnings

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Swift County earned $170,000 in interest income on its investments in 2017. The earnings are due to a combination of more funds to invest and interest rates that are starting to creep up.

In all, the county had $20,141,095 invested at the end of 2017. But not all of that is made up of funds the county has sitting in reserves for general operations.

Nearly $5.2 million of the investment funds were just added this past year in the form of a bond sale to pay for renovations at the Swift County courthouse and at Countryside Public Health in Benson. Those monies are already being paid out to contractors. Another $1 million in funds are in a reserve that has been built up over the past several years from the county’s self-insurance health plan. There is $3.3 million in the road and bridge fund.

There is $5.09 million in the general revenue fund reserve. Other investment funds are tied to economic development and human services.

Swift County’s investments earned a low of 0.10 percent to a high of 1.85 percent on its bond in 2017. It earns 2 percent on the funds it has loaned to Swift County-Benson Health Services. The SCBHS loan has a balance of $1.609 million to be paid off. It receives 1.75 percent on the $132,293 balance on its loan to CNH. The CNH and SCBHS funds loaned are not counted in the $20.14 million total bond investments.

Interest Earnings 2017

Fund    Earnings
Revenue    $96,576
County highway    $25,303
Revolving loan fund    $15,055
Human Services    $11,174
Capital improvement bond    $21,911
Total    $170,020

On the bonds that were rolling over toward the end of 2017, Swift County Treasurer Ron Vadnais told commissioners at their meeting Feb. 6 that he was seeing a 50 to 60 basis point increase in interest rates. “That is a positive,” he said.

The most recent bonds invested in January “tickled the 2 percent mark,” Vadnais said. Interest rates haven’t been at 2 percent for at least 10 years.

“In the 35 years you have been the county treasurer, have we ever had balances this high?” Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson, asked Vadnais.

“No,” he replied. “But then again, we have taken some pretty active and progressive steps.” He pointed to the $1 million that is in the county’s self-funded health insurance balance. There has also been a concerted effort to build the funds in the county’s highway funds to pay for future projects....


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