Treasurer candidate discusses county finances

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Steven Hintz is a retired judge running for Ventura County Treasurer/Tax Collector. He's a fiscal conservative that is endorsed by a wide spectrum of groups including the Ventura County GOP, SEIU, and the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs' Association. The Ventura County Star also endorsed Hintz (again) earlier this month, writing:

We believe his decision-making experience and financial know-how position him to properly serve the best interests of Ventura County taxpayers.

If elected, Mr. Hintz will be charged with the responsibility of working with the county's chief investment officer to wisely invest the county's existing $2 billion portfolio. We also view Mr. Hintz as being a strong advocate for taxpayers.

Impressively, Hintz has vowed to turn down the use of a county car, cell phone, and $10,000 of his salary if he is elected.

Hintz touched on his economic philosophy in my last interview with him--in this post there's a little more detail about how this potential treasurer will protect our public funds.

One way to figure out where someone thinks the economy is headed is to see where they put their money. It's not perfect--an individual is going to have a different investment strategy than a multi-billion dollar organization, but it provides a little perspective.

Three-quarters of Hintz' personal money is invested in money market and bond funds, mostly tax exempt. The remaining quarter is in a broad American fund, a fund south of our border, and energy funds. A very small portion is invested in precious metals.

"My personal goal is capital preservation, not capital gain," Hintz said.

Me, I'm worried about the long-term value of the dollar and am scared to death to be in anything American, but a thirty-year-old, a retiree, and a county aren't going to have the same concerns.

Hintz listed these facts about Ventura County's investment portfolio:

  • 85 percent: federal bonds issued by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, etc. with a maturity rate of three years or less, and an average maturity of no longer than one year.
  • 15 percent: 270-day commercial paper issued by Chevron and General Electric
  • Between $2 million and $10 million is re-invested every workday
  • Rate of return is about 1.5 percent
  • Managed completely in house

That's not going to knock anyone's socks off, but a lot of people will take comfort with this conventional and conservative portfolio that is managed according to an investment policy established by the Board of Supervisors.

"If I am elected, the Chief Investment Officer and I will review all the allowable investment options, but it would be inappropriate for this fund to chase yield at the cost of incurring additional risk," Hintz said.

He's right; while I wouldn't have my money invested in Fannie Mae, it's good for large public funds to exercise a large abundance of caution and follow the herd--risky investments don't just have the potential of screwing over thousands of people, it could land the treasurer in jail.

Hintz couldn't comment on the retirement fund, saying he doesn't have enough information on it and that it is managed with the assistance of outside investors.

The candidate, if elected, would assume a seat on the county Employee's Retirement Association board of directors, which runs the county pension fund.

4 Comments

Eric,

Are you endorsing Steven Hintz?

Good question. I won't be making any endorsements in any race this time around.

My pal and I have been just talking about this article, she is constantly endeavouring to prove me wrong! I will show her this post and rub it in a little!

Well then, i'll add my 2 cents to this contribution. first I would like to give thanks to you pal for the moment you took to write and discuss this info with other users... i respect that.

IngeMusings
Topic
This blog attempts to add perspective and context to local and national politics, through a variety of disciplines, such as history, economics, and philosophy--all tempered with common sense. About the author

Eric Ingemunson's commentary has been featured on Hannity, CNN, NBC, Inside Edition, and KFI's The John and Ken Show. Eric was born and raised in Ventura County and currently resides in Moorpark. He earned a master's degree in Public Policy and Administration from California Lutheran University. As a conservative, Eric supports smaller government, less taxation, more individual freedom, the rule of law, and a strict adherence to the Constitution.
  • nyc webdesign: Well then, i'll add my 2 cents to this contribution. read more
  • Solomon Doerner: My pal and I have been just talking about this read more
  • Eric Ingemunson: Good question. I won't be making any endorsements in any read more
  • Brian: Eric, Are you endorsing Steven Hintz? read more