Officials Discuss Updates To Investment Policy

MAYVILLE — County officials continued discussion Thursday over recommendations found in a state audit report that criticized the county’s investment program.

During an Audit and Control Committee meeting, members examined ways to transfer items found in their corrective action plan into policy.

The comptroller’s recent audit stated the finance director at the time didn’t always invest funds in accordance with investment policy and general municipal law. Recommendations in the audit detailed adequate oversight by the County Legislature to ensure all investments are in the county’s best interest.

Committee members and Kitty Crow, finance director, agreed language should be included pertaining to a meeting on a quarterly basis for discussion on the investment program.

They also agreed policy should include language related to an annual review of the program with financial advisors.

“It holds our feet to the fire,” said Legislator Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown. “Once in policy, then we’re responsible to make sure we adhere to that.”

Officials also discussed ways to include their investment strategy into policy. Nazzaro said policy is binding where procedure or strategy is the recommended way to do things.

“I think we have to be careful,” he said. “Part of policy could be that you have comment in it that you’ll be developing strategy but don’t list particular strategy in the policy.”

The Comptroller’s Office also recommended the finance director obtain approval from the county attorney prior to making purchases of any new type of investment not currently in the portfolio.

County Attorney Steve Abdella acknowledged he doesn’t want such policy to impact the finance director’s functions if something happens in the market that needs immediate attention.

“I wouldn’t want the director limited by policy where the full legislature needs to be convened to make an adjustment in our portfolio,” he said.

Officials said they will continue to work to include elements of the corrective action plan and investment strategy into policy on a more permanent basis. Policy changes would be made before the next budget adoption.

County legislators have also taken action on a recommendation to cease allowing elected officials to accrue and be paid for vacation leave.

Members on the Administrative Services and Audit and Control committees approved a local law to remove the vacation buy-back benefit for county executive, county clerk, sheriff and district attorney. The local law will go before the full County Legislature at next week’s meeting.