County commission schedules meeting to discuss investment concerns

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

County commissioners have questions about a $2.3 million investment made by Curry County Treasurer Bernice Baker and have scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to examine the fund’s performance.

A report compiled in December shows the investment with fund manager Macquarie Allegiance Capital lost money in its first three months and paid about 81 percent of its earnings in management fees.

Commissioner Frank Blackburn, who voted against the contract, said it is unclear if the county has lost money or not.

Asked by a CNJ reporter what the starting investment was, the current account value and the value from the most recent statement, Baker said she did not have those figures available and would provide them today.

Baker is authorized to manage the county’s investments — currently about $11 million — at her discretion.

At Bakers request in July, commissioners approved a contract with Macquarie, acknowledging the fund was higher risk than those traditionally included in the county portfolio.

Commissioners told Baker they wanted monthly reports on the account.

When nearly three months passed without reports, Finance Manager Mark Lansford was instructed to conduct an analysis.

Lansford’s Dec. 15 report shows from Aug. 13 to Nov. 30, the county had earnings totaling $7,278 from which Macquarie Allegiance was paid $5,858 in management fees.

Commissioner Dan Stoddard said he is concerned and wants to hear an explanation. But Stoddard said he believes the county needs to take more risk with its investments.

Commission Chairman Bobby Sandoval said, “The investments that we had were a little bit speculative… we only invested a small amount of the county’s money to test it and it doesn’t look like it’s working out the way we thought it would.”