Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

June 25, 2013

Deputy pay, investments spark debate at meeting

Commissioners eliminate 171 hour, 28-day rule

Johnson County commissioners on Monday voted to eliminate a long-standing rule requiring sheriff’s deputies to work more than 171 hours in a 28-day pay period before they can begin to receive overtime pay.

Commissioners also approved an agreement allowing First Financial Trust and Asset Management Co. to invest county funds in government and municipal bonds, despite County Judge Roger Harmon’s vigorous objections to the proposal.

County Treasurer Debbie Rice presented the proposed agreement, suggesting that the county allow First Financial to take at least some of the $10 million the county currently has invested in certificates of deposit and invest the money instead in bonds, which could pay a higher interest rate.

Harmon said he can’t support anything that puts taxpayer dollars at risk.

“When we are dealing with taxpayer money, I don’t like to gamble with it,” Harmon said, adding that if Rice and First Financial officials could “sit here and guarantee me there’s no risk” he would vote to approve the agreement.

Matt Reynolds, First Financial president, reminded Harmon and the commissioners that the $10 million invested in CDs is only a portion of the county funds deposited at First Financial, and that all the county money deposited at the bank is protected, either by the FDIC, which insures deposits up to $250,000, or by bonds the bank is required to buy as collateral to protect the rest of the county’s funds.

“You would be taking a little more of a risk to buy bonds directly,” Reynolds said, but doing so also gives the county the chance to make more with its investments.

Reynolds also suggested that by not taking some risks and aiming for a greater return on its investments than the .15 percent interest rate the CDs are earning, county officials “could be called to task for being too conservative” in their investment practices.

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