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Failing fortunes
Low interest rates have hammered the amount Allen County earns on the money in its bank accounts:
2008…$4.6 million
2009…$1.1 million
Source: Allen County treasurer

Low rates plague county savings till

Paltry return sign of times, but sure beats 0%


– Sure, those super-low interest rates are great when you’re refinancing the mortgage on your house.

But they’re not so great when Allen County officials try to earn interest on the property taxes you pay on that house.

In 2008, the county earned $4.6 million in interest and earnings on the limited investing it is allowed to do. The next year, as the economy bottomed out and interest rates plummeted in an attempt to stimulate spending, it earned only $1.1 million. The amount has fallen every year since.

In 2013, the county earned $296,343.15.

“You’ll notice the interest rates we’re getting are not all that great,” Allen County Treasurer Sue Orth said, dryly. Orth’s report was part of the Allen County commissioners’ annual meeting of the Board of Finance. It revealed that the county is currently earning an average of 0.149 percent. Two years ago, it was earning a paltry 0.20 percent, but that was still one-third higher than today’s rate.

“We only bought one CD last year,” Orth said. The $10 million certificate of deposit for nine months paid 0.35 percent interest – Orth bought only one because the rate wasn’t any better than bank accounts were paying, so there was no point in tying up the cash for no extra return.

And it’s probably not going to get better any time soon: Orth said a recent conference of treasurers shared the forecast that rates are not expected to increase until 2016.

“I guess all you can do is go to zero, and then it’s all up from there,” Commissioner Therese Brown said.

Getting to zero won’t be a long trip: One account at Tower Bank, according to Orth’s report, is paying 0.01 percent.

“All we can really do is wait this out,” Orth said. “I move money around as much as I can to get as much interest as possible, but it doesn’t help much.”