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Market gains boost county pension fund

February 18, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Market gains boost county pension fund

Washington County's pension fund managed by INVESCO earned $5.4 million last year, riding a stock market surge.

A 24.8 percent investment gain helped propel the county's pension fund to $27.8 million on Dec. 31, 1997, said portfolio manager Mike Harhai.

The fund has risen another $1 million since the beginning of the year, he said.

The county's portfolio is 71 percent invested in stocks and 29 percent in bonds and other securities.

The stock portfolio returned 34.3 percent, versus 33.4 percent for the S&P 500. Only one in 10 mutual funds beat the S&P last year, Harhai said.

The bonds and other securities returned 9.1 percent, compared to a 9.8 percent gain for the Lehman Bros. bond index.

Harhai said he didn't expect the stock market to continue at its current torrid pace. The high investment returns over the past few years mean the county won't have to spend as much money on pensions in the future, he said.

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INVESCO Capital Management is the company that arranged for three top county officials to attend The Masters golf tournament last year.

The County Commissioners awarded INVESCO a new three-year contract for $361,000 last year.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop and Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis said they did not participate in awarding the contract.

The trio received tickets to The Masters golf tournament in April from INVESCO at their $100-a-day face value. The coveted tickets were being scalped for as much as $8,000, according to the senior editor of Golf Digest magazine.

The two lowest bidders for the three-year contract, which can be cancelled at the end of each year, were Wheat First Butcher Singer, with a bid of $231,000, and First Union National Bank, with a bid of $262,500.

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