Raising a Glass to Ohio: How a County Made History

2023 was the most successful year in 216 years for Delaware County, Ohio, earning more than $14 million in interest income, thanks in part to Rick Karr, chief investment officer and the county treasurer Donald E. Rankey Jr.

“Not only did we generate more than $14 million overall, but we were able to earn in excess of $12.1 million that went into the Delaware County General Fund for the benefit of all our taxpayers,” Rankey said. “We had no loss of any principal value, and don’t project any future investment interest losses. Essentially, the interest we earned is bulletproof.”

The impressive year caught the eye of State of Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, who previously said that Rankey’s office should be a model for county treasurers around the state.

Part of the successful investments included leveraging the STAR Ohio program, which offers a relatively high interest rate for overnight investments, among other benefits.

Chief Investment Officer Karr said the 2024 investment portfolio already has $8.7 million of guaranteed investment income.

“We are working on extending the portfolio’s investment duration to maximize potential return in this high-rate environment,” Karr said. “One key policy we operate under is we minimize the idle cash in the county’s checking account. We move excess cash to STAR Ohio for short-term returns. We squeeze every penny and make strategic investments to take advantage of the current high-rate environment under Treasurer Rankey’s direction.”

Karr said the Delaware County Treasurer’s Office follows the most secure investment policy by holding all investments to maturity. The investments under this policy always return the principal value at maturity, along with interest earnings.

“Once maturity is reached on our investments, there is never any loss of any investment funds,” Karr said.

Rankey said shrewd investing and attention to detail enabled his office to enjoy a banner year.

“The effective federal funds rate (EFFR) is currently a third of what Delaware County saw in the early 1980s,” Rankey said. “If we had not started repositioning and strategically laddering our investments in 2021, the 2024 historic return for Delaware County residents and businesses would have never been achieved.”

Note: Please join us as Rick Karr, chief investment officer for Delaware County, and Scott Adams, director of investments at the Ohio Treasury, will be speaking at the 10th Annual Ohio Institutional Forum on Feb 29. Registration details here.