Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel spoke with Seneca County Treasurer Damon Alt and Commissioner Fred Zoeller about the county's $990,000 investment in the STAR Plus program Friday.
The STAR Ohio investment program has been in place since 1985, but many entities wanted better results on their yields. Instead of a local government investment pool, STAR Plus is a bank deposit program backed by the federal government.
The program helps all investors earn a yield on deposits without credit or market risk by leveraging FDIC insurance.
Mandel said he and his staff focused on maintaining the safety and security of the tax dollars while increasing the yield, along with keeping the money in local communities.
The new program is tripling the rate of the return, Mandel said. "It's safe and secure ... and it's giving community banks opportunities to compete so local tax money stays in the local communities."
In the past year, about $1.3 billion has been invested into STAR Plus. Besides the county, New Riegel Local Schools, Hopewell-Loudon Local School District, Tiffin-Seneca Public Library and Tiffin City School District have invested about $7 million in the program.
So far, more than 385 schools, cities, counties, townships, libraries and other public entities have invested money. The majority of investors include 140 schools around the state.
By investing funds, entities are guaranteed 25 basis points instead of receiving 6 with STAR Ohio.
Alt said the money is also readily available within a week, giving entities easier access to their funds.
"I believe the control should be at the local level," Mandel said. "They should have the control and decision making authority on how to best invest their tax money, and all we're trying to do at the state treasurer's office is give them their option."
Mandel also explained his "online checkbook" legislation for the Ohio treasury.
In his hope that the government can be transparent concerning its spending, he wants to give tax payers the opportunity to see where their money is going in the state government.
According to Mandel's annual report, House Bill 175 would allow the creation of a database of expenditures that will give Ohioans access to look through the billions of dollars spent by the state.
"I think that when bureaucrats and politicians know that the people are watching, those public officials are going think twice about wasting tax money or to fraud tax payers," he said.
Mandel has also organized conferences for county treasurers in order to continually educate them on their annual financial education. He hopes to include all other government entities by offering to create a free database their expenditures as well.
"Part of what I think we could be doing a better job in government is leveraging the expertise of the private sector," he said. He also hopes that individuals will look at the government spending and talk to their representatives about other ideas on how to manage the budget more effectively.
More information can be found at ohiotreasurer.gov/transparency.