Letter: RTM Finance Committee vice chairman responds to treasurer’s bullying accusation
To the Editor:
There was no “bullying” by RTM Finance & Budget or any of its members. Finance & Budget went out of its way to persuade treasury to follow the protocol of all departments in developing the budget.
Treasury insisted on continuing its practice of low-balling. Treasury said that everyone should be happy if actual income numbers exceed planned numbers, and, anyway, these differences amount to only a few dollars for each Darien household. Yes, but if all departments were to plan this way, this would seriously undermine the Town’s budget efforts. Is the Treasurer low-balling because there are performance issues? Unfortunately the investment performance cannot easily be weighed, since treasury doesn’t use any performance benchmarks, such as the State’s Short Term Investment Fund (STIF).
Towns that invest in the state’s investment pool have realized that a one-person treasury doesn’t work well. There is too much work to be done in analyzing credits, selecting deposit institutions and determining deposit maturities, as well as preparing budgets and reports.
Are the treasurer’s recent verbal derailments due to stress? Perhaps the town treasury should invest in the STIF. The money would recently have earned 2.4% instead of 85 basis points in bank money market accounts. Treasury says that the STIF may “steal” Darien’s money. That is nonsense. There are $7 billion in assets and over 200 municipal depositors. The model of pooling municipal funds to achieve higher returns and less risk by diversification is unassailable. Every state has a STIF and none of them has ever “broken the buck”, not even during the financial crisis. The Connecticut STIF is rated triple-A. What does the Darien Treasurer know that S&P or the other municipal depositors haven’t discovered?
Bert von Stuelpnagel
The writer is the vice chairman of the RTM’s Finance & Budget Committee.