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Video: Lowndes County Trust Fund Investments Appear Promising

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Things are looking good for Lowndes County’s $30 million hospital trust fund. Two investment companies updated county supervisors Friday on what new options allowed by the legislature are meaning for taxpayers’ money.

” We’ve only put our money in the trust fund since October 7th of last year, so only for 3 months. We had a return of almost $400,000, where as before, in a whole year, we only had $65,000 to $67,000 so we’ve done quite well. But, as you know, it’s very volatile and we could very easily have a down turn, but I think things look really positive for our short-term future,” said Harry Sanders, President of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors.

“The change that the Board of Supervisors made was to take the account from basically a CD or an interest bearing account and invest it in the stock and the bond market. And so, we’ve been managing about 60% of the money in bonds and about 40% in stocks. That’s why it’s out performed just a simple interest bearing account,” said Rocky Miskelly, Director of Wealth & Management, Renasant Bank.

Since the county sold its hospital to Baptist Health Systems six years ago, the money has been in a trust fund. When interest rates were high, the fund made enough money for the county to help build a new soccer complex, health department, justice court and community centers. But in the last two years, the money made almost nothing.

“This means their money rather than growing at a very minuscule rate, has grown about 2% in less than a 3rd of the year,” said Miskelly.

The current trends mean the investment could grow a million dollars or more a year. But the county is limited in how much of the money can be tapped into each year. That protects the nest egg. Still, county officials know a debate looms over what projects will be at the top of the priority list.

“I’m sure as we move forward and hopefully we’re doing really well in accrued income, that we will be able to use it for perhaps some capital improvement,” District 5 Supervisor LeRoy Brooks.

“There are some things we could do, but we haven’t decided yet. We’re just waiting on all of the pressure to be put on us on people wanting something,” said Sanders.

Already county leaders have privately suggested everything from major road paving to a new agri-center as possible uses for some of the money. Other ideas are certain to be added to the mix.

Even with the ups and downs in the stock market, the future looks good for both counties. Oxford and Lafayette County sold their hospital two years ago and also have seen big returns.