Garfield County has $8M with Fannie, Freddie |

Garfield County has $8M with Fannie, Freddie

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” Garfield County can’t withdraw about $8 million invested in troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But that represents only a small portion of the county’s funds, and it should be available soon.

County Manager Ed Green said, “We have a variety of investments for our fund balances and one of those is CSAFE … and some of those funds that it invests in are indeed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

The county has about $16 million invested in CSAFE, a local government investment pool, and only about half of that is invested in the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Green said.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in September after hitting financial trouble through bad home loans they backed. Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain said the companies “lit this fire” under the current economic crisis. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama offered a different view in the last presidential debate, instead blaming deregulation of financial systems.

Green said the county funds tied up with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are described as “il-liquid” and have restrictions on how fast they can be withdrawn.

“It doesn’t mean our funds are at risk,” he said. “I think we’re in good shape, and we’ve got ample fund balances.”

He said the inaccessible funds represent less than 10 percent of the more than $80 million in funds the county has in other accounts or investments. But the money should be available within a few weeks, Green said.

At the end of the year the county expects the balance to be around $61 million due to a normal drawdown later in the year. The county gets a lot of its revenues earlier in the year.

Green said the rest of the funds aren’t tied to any other financially challenged companies.

“Everything else is in very good shape,” he said.

The total county budget for this year is $107 million, and next year it’s projected to be about $138 million, Green said.

The 2009 budget includes some big-dollar projects like an affordable housing project, a new department of human services building and a new Garfield County Sheriff’s Office annex in Rifle. There are also plans for a new administrative addition to the Garfield County Jail and money budgeted to pay off debt on the jail. Also in the budget are a variety of improvements at the Garfield County Regional Airport and another “cell” or large pit at the landfill, among other items, Green said.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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