Investing in Kern County makes sense
David Couch's proposal to take a tiny portion of the Kern County Employee Retirement Agency's investment portfolio and put into Kern County's economy was pushed aside a couple of weeks ago by the KCERA Board.
But Couch isn't going to give up on the idea and we support him.
Couch has proposed to take just one percent of the portfolio, which funds Kern County and some special district employees and families with pensions, disability payments and death benefits, and invest it in Kern County real estate.
He'd just asking the KCERA Board to appoint an ad hoc committee to look at the proposal and report back to the board. The board refused, voting not to proceed with even looking at it.
Couch isn't giving up.
He's confident that, when the advantages of investing in Kern County are examined, KCERA will see the advantages.
He sees a a lot of potential here, he pointed out, while others focus only analyses from the big New York financial institutions.
In opposing the proposal from Couch, KCERA staff cited reports from Standard & Poor's that see limited opportunities in Kern County.
The big financial firms and investment banks have been wrong before, and we think any decision on investing in Kern County should be made in Kern County, not in a skyscraper in New York.
One staff member even said investing in Kern County was too risky because the price of oil could fall as low as $50 per barrel.
That's absurd. In any event, the KCERA investments would be diverse, spread through the oil, agriculture and real estate field.
Couch's proposal would take about $60 million from KCERA's investment pool and put into the local economy.
It would be invested within the guidelines that govern all KCER investments, and Couch says the KCERA could easily find investment opportunities here that would exceed the KCER policy of a 7.5 percent return.
KCERA needs to take another look at Couch's proposal and the study the issue at length following the lead of other retirement systems and their policies on investing locally.
Kern County has a rich, diversified economy and investing in it makes good sense for KCERA.
It also makes good sense for Kern County.
Let the naysayers step aside for the time being and take a fresh look at a plan with a lot of potential benefits. Couch isn't asking the KCERA Board for anything but an objective study of an idea that could be a benefit to everyone.