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Financial firms in competition for hospital trust fund

COLUMBUS — Twelve financial firms have submitted proposals to manage Lowndes County’s $30 million hospital trust fund.

The county wants a bigger return on its investment of those funds.

Board of Supervisors president Harry Sanders told the Commercial Dispatch that the county hopes the 0.2 percent ($60,000 annually) 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.

Sanders said the trust fund selection committee is expected to trim the list of firms to three this week. The three firms will be interviewed in meetings open to the public Sept. 3.

Sanders said the board of supervisors expects to receive a recommendation from the committee shortly after the interviews.

The Legislature created the Lowndes County Reserve and Trust Fund this year and authorized the county to place funds in interest-bearing accounts including state, federal, government and corporate AAA bonds, as well as common stocks.

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 transfer up to 85 percent of the interest made yearly into the county’s general fund. The remainder 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 None of the principal can be spent unless supervisors declare an emergency, in which case up to 5 percent could be withdrawn on the condition it is paid back.

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

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