July 18, 2013 10:22:25 AM
Twelve financial firms have submitted proposals to manage funds from Lowndes County's hospital sale, and county trustees of those funds have agreed to hire a consultant to whittle the applicants to a group of finalists. Those interviews could begin late next week, funds trustee president Harry Sanders said.
The Board of Trustees of the Lowndes County Reserve and Trust Fund authorized compensating financial consultant Bob Bradford of Jackson-based Pickett Bradford & Associates to help the board's proposal review committee narrow the scope of proposals.
The committee consists of Sanders, Bradford, county administrator Ralph Billingsley, trustee member Bill Brigham, chief financial officer Dave Basinger and county attorney Tim Hudson. The board of trustees is comprised of all county supervisors.
The amount Bradford will be paid will be made public in a future meeting, Sanders said. Bradford has not yet billed the trustees for the work he has done so far.
"When our committee met, we looked at the 12 proposals and we said this is mind-boggling and there is no way in the world we have expertise to make a prudent decision, so we need some help," Sanders said. "We called three different (certified public accountant) companies ... We asked them for some recommendations on who we might get as a consultant who would be unbiased. He came highly recommended."
Once interviews are complete, the board has the option of selecting multiple firms to provide management and investment services for portions of the $30 million principal amount of the fund. Mississippi legislators approved the establishment of the trust fund earlier this year.
The consultant(s) selected will be authorized to place funds in various interest-bearing investments of the trustees' choosing, including state, federal, government and corporate AAA bonds as well as common stocks. The principal cannot be touched unless trustees declare an emergency, in which case up to 5 percent could be spent on the condition that it is paid back.
The county could previously only place the money from the 2001 sale in certificates of deposit. Interest the county earned from those waned from 5.2 percent initially to 0.19 percent.
Because the proposal review/investment committee does not consist of a quorum of supervisors, the interviews will not be public.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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