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Lee County treasurer OKs rival’s plan

County to get 8 times more investment income

Published: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 10:03 a.m. CDT

DIXON – A few weeks ago, Lee County Treasurer John Fritts approved a plan that will yield 8 times more in investment income on county funds.

Whose idea was it? Wes Morrissey, who is running against Fritts for the treasurer’s post in November’s election.

When Morrissey announced his candidacy a couple of months ago, he proposed an investment plan for the county that, he said, could increase investment income from $3,000 a year to $37,000.

In the plan approved by Fritts, the income will be $28,000.

“If we had acted 2 months ago, we would have gotten $37,000,” said Morrissey, who joined the Lee County Board in 2012. “It took 2 months to explain it to [the treasurer’s office].”

The treasurer’s office previously invested $2.5 million in local banks. Now, it is in FDIC-insured CDs at banks around the country, Morrissey said. For each of the next 5 years, one-fifth of the CDs will come due.

“Nothing like this had been done before,” Morrissey said. “If you had someone in the treasurer’s office who understood markets, they could have shopped for the best rates. John’s strategy was to keep the money in money market accounts.”

Asked whether the plan would benefit the county long-term, Fritts said, “We’re going to find out.”

County Board Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, said he liked the new investment plan.

“It’s a good deal,” he said. “It was Wes’ idea to do it. It was gracious of John to admit it.”

Morrissey, an Amboy resident, is running as a Democrat against the Republican Fritts, who has been county treasurer for two decades. Fritts has run unopposed since the 1990s.

In an interview, Morrissey said the treasurer’s office has been “a little lackadaisical.” 

“The treasurer’s office can be more than a glorified teller, more than just collecting taxes,” Morrissey said. “Now, the county will net a little bit more money. All of a sudden, it’s not as painful to hire a new sheriff’s deputy as it was.”

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