The Journal Gazette
Saturday, January 22, 2022 1:00 am

'Horrible' year; county income falls

Treasurer blames low interest rates


Allen County in 2021 faced a bad year for its investments, Treasurer William Royce told the county commissioners Friday.

He made his remarks in presenting the annual report of the county's Board of Finance.  

Royce said the county's general fund investments drew less than half the amount of interest income than in 2020 – $412,000 instead of nearly $1 million.

He attributed that to financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and very low interest rates being paid by banks and bonds.

Treasury bond interest stood well below 1%, savings accounts were earning about 1% at best and the stock market was “in a tailspin,” Royce said.

The year's interest rates averaged 0.22% – compared with 1.8% in 2020, the annual report shows.

“This past year was absolutely horrible,” Royce said of trying to find safe and better-yielding investments.

Royce also said the county faced another challenge – a scam cyberattack in which the perpetrators targeted a rarely used account and began writing bogus checks. 

“Fortunately, we caught it early and fast,” he said, crediting STAR Bank for aiding the county. The account was closed and there were “few losses,” he said.

Royce said little would change this year in the way the county's money is invested.

Republican Commissioner Nelson Peters asked if anything prevented Royce from coming back to the commissioners a few months from now to tweak the investment policies if the situation changes; Royce replied that a revisit is possible. 

In other business, the commissioners:

• Agreed to a $9,000 settlement with Allen County Jail inmate Patrick Hodgin presented by Spencer Feighner, a Fort Wayne attorney. He said Hodgin got into an altercation with his cellmate several years ago.

Feighner told The Journal Gazette the confrontation resulted in injuries to Hodgin's face, including a broken orbital bone. 

Hodgin sued Linton Hake, Sheriff David Gladieux and a person identified only as “Officer Butcher,” saying they had a duty to protect him as an inmate.

Feigner said the suit, filed in federal court, would have cost more to defend than to settle.

• Aproved final bills for two small-structure bridges. One on Foote Road over the Hamm Interceptor Ditch came in for $723,297 or $2,090.28 over the expected price, and the other on Ternet Road over Ellison Ditch cost  $753,008, a $24,136 decrease.

• Approved the reappointment of Dr. Thomas Dykstra to the Allen County Board of Health. 

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