Hospital fund committee to narrow firm search

August 26, 2013 8:56:22 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Twelve financial firms that submitted proposals to manage Lowndes County's $30 million hospital trust fund will be narrowed to three this week.  


Those three will then be interviewed in meetings open to the public Sept. 3 by the trust fund selection committee and financial consultant before a selection is recommended to fund trustees. 


As soon as that happens, the 0.2 percent ($60,000) interest the county has recently earned on certificates of deposit will eventually turn into at least 4 percent ($1.2 million) and as much as 8 percent, board of supervisors president Harry Sanders said. This flexiblility on investment types was facilitated by a bill passed by state legislators earlier this year creating the Lowndes County Reserve and Trust Fund and authorizing the county to place funds in interest-bearing accounts including state, federal, government and corporate AAA bonds, as well as common stocks. 


Committee members have not yet named any firms to be interviewed. 


Sanders said the option to select multiple firms is still on the table but it is more likely only one will be chosen.  


"It looks to me like the fees and costs of managing money will be cheaper if it's all with one firm than if it's split," Sanders said. 


According to the law, trustees can choose to take up to 85 percent of the interest made yearly and transfer that to the county's general fund. The amount not taken would roll back into the $30 million principal and stay there. None of the principal can be spent unless supervisors declare an emergency, in which case up to 5 percent could be withdrawn on the condition it is paid back. 


The committee, consisting of Sanders, county administrator Ralph Billingsley, supervisor Bill Brigham, county attorney Tim Hudson, chief financial Dave Basinger and financial consultant Bob Bradford, with Pickett, Bradford and Associates from Jackson, will conduct the public interviews. No questions from the floor will be allowed.  


From that process, Bradford and the committee will make a recommendation to be presented to the trustees, who consist of all five county supervisors. 


After trustees make a selection, they will make known to the public how much the firm will make each year to manage the funds, Sanders said. 


Baptist Memorial Health Care bought the previously county-owned hospital in 2001.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.