Given the uncertain future for investments, how would you protect the Doña Ana County’s funds?
Eugenia (Gina) Montoya Ortega
Given the uncertain future for investments I would protect Doña Ana County’s funds by, continuing to work closely with our Department of Finance and Administration assuring that all investments comply with the guidelines described in our investment policy and ensuring the safety of our investments.
Eric L Rodriguez
First and foremost, the primary objective of the county’s portfolio is preservation of principal. We only invest in government backed securities, and collateralized assets. An economic downturn may cause yield compression, but the principle is not exposed to risk of loss. Secondly, we follow an investment policy that already mitigates risk. Third, our current strategy is to stay on a laddered approach. As investments come due, we reinvest them according to liquidity needs. Our maturities are staggered so that we can replace assets with current market rates. Basically, we are spreading risk and averaging returns
What measures have you taken or intend to take to keep collected funds here in the County?
Eugenia (Gina) Montoya Ortega– As the Treasurer of Doña Ana County one of the measures I intend to take on keeping collected funds here in Doña Ana County is to work closely with our Department of Finance and Administration, whom the Treasurer is subject to guidance from as well as Treasurer’s office staff members . I would focus on working with delinquent property tax payers on delinquent taxes, as once delinquent properties are turned over to the State of New Mexico, so is all the interest, penalties, and other fees which is money that could of have been kept and used here in Doña Ana County rather than by our state. For example “the Bernalillo County Treasurer’s office (currently the only NM State county’s Treasurer’s office to achieve a “triple A” Bond rating from Moody’s Fitch and Standard and Poor’s) collected over $14 Million in delinquent taxes from the 2016 property tax year, approximately 89% of the outstanding tax notices, which represents the highest collection amount for Bernalillo County in the last 10 years”.
Eric L Rodriguez– The answer is easy, invest more in local banks! However, the application is more complicated than that. New Mexico laws require that banks collateralize public funds by
up to 102% above FDIC coverage. This means that banks will have to front their own money to hold public funds, reducing their cash flows to lend out and meet reserve requirements. During my term as treasurer we have increased local investments and added new
relationships by lowering the collateral requirement to 50% for qualified local banks based on a quarterly risk assessment established by the State Board of Finance. It also helps us negotiate rates making local banks more competitive. In addition, we will
be introducing certificate of deposit account placement services, which allow us to place one deposit in a bank that is divided out to participating banks in FDIC coverage increments, effectively reducing collateral requirements. With your vote I can lead and navigate this complex investment vehicle that will benefit local banks.
What changes or improvements in the operation of the Treasurer’s office do you think are necessary?
Eugenia (Gina) Montoya Ortega – Changes or improvements in the operation of the Treasurer’s office that I believe are necessary are honesty, transparency, instilling dignity, integrity and pride back into the Treasurer’s office, achieving a “triple A” Bond Rating, obtaining 100% clean financial audits, providing all the tax payers of Doña Ana County the same excellent customer service and same methods possible, utilizing all possible payment methods, community outreach and education, ensuring all office rules and regulations are being followed, establishing properly trained staff, securing a professional rapport with all county management and staff, maximizing the rate of return on our investments, ensuring the safekeeping of public records, improving/updating the department’s website making it more user friendly and promising/guaranteeing the constituents of Doña Ana County that David Gutierrez will not be part of our Doña Ana County Treasurer’s office in any way shape or form.
Eric L Rodriguez – During my term I introduced e-billing options, convenience payment locations for our rural taxpayers, offered pre-payment plans to reduce the tax burden for lower income households, and enhanced external payment options. I have maintained clean audits, reduced liability risks and helped contribute to a county credit rating increase. The portfolio saw a 70% revenue increase and there has been a 60% reduction in delinquent accounts turned over to the state. Overall customer service has also improved. Online financial reports and easy to read annual tax distribution newsletters have created more transparency. Sure, there is always more room for improvement, and these last three years are proof that I am capable of making them. My current goal is to focus on legislation that will provide relief for taxpayers that have been financially hurt by the COVID-19 crisis. For more information about my candidacy visit www.rodriguez4teasurer.com.