JACKSON, Miss. – State Treasurer Lynn Fitch today released a new tool to help local government units, particularly those in rural and smaller communities, improve access to financial institutions.
“All local governments, from the biggest counties to the smallest school districts, need strong relationships with financial institutions,” said State Treasurer Lynn Fitch. “It’s the cornerstone of all the work they do for their constituents. But in recent years, we’ve seen the pool of banks available to some of these localities has been shrinking. My staff and I saw the problem and set to work to find a solution.”
At issue is the statutorily-mandated process used to determine where communities can deposit public money. Each year, the Office of the State Treasurer qualifies institutions that are eligible to hold public funds. Every two years, or three for school districts, municipalities and counties go through a bid process to get the best possible deal for depositing public funds.
“What we found was that the bid forms themselves had become an obstacle to developing a good relationship between the public entities and the financial institutions,” said Misti Preziosi, Chief Investment Officer in Treasurer Lynn Fitch’s office. “The forms were often very complicated and cumbersome and there was no uniformity to them. As a result, some banks decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort to fill them out, leaving many smaller communities with few or even no options for depositing public funds.”
Treasurer Fitch’s office spent the last year meeting with local governments and banking institutions to create a standardized form that can be used during the bid process. It helps streamline paperwork and encourage more financial institutions to engage in a broader range of bids. The resulting form, along with an informational guide to the bidding process, is available at http://www.treasurerlynnfitch.com/Programs/Pages/Investments-Cash-Management.aspx.
“This wasn’t a task that we were required to do by law or regulation,” said Treasurer Fitch. “But, we knew it was a problem and we knew we could help. Being good stewards of the people’s money is one of the most important jobs any elected official has. And, I’m glad we were able to help them, as well as school district officials, across the state secure the public trust and safeguard the people’s money.”