GARNER | The Hancock County Board of Supervisors is looking for someone to oversee the more than $600,000 remaining in the Mokry Trust for county-related social services.
That comes after the supervisors unanimously voted not to be the fund’s trustees during their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Jan. 21.
“I don’t know that the board, that we, wanted to be responsible for the money per se,” Supervisor Florence “Sis” Greiman said. “We were thinking people who have better skills than ourselves to handle those things.”
The County Board is scheduled to discuss, and possibly vote, to appoint trustees to the Mokry Trust on Jan. 28.
Last year, the supervisors explored using money from the Mokry and Funnemark trusts to offset expenses incurred by Winnebago/Hancock/Worth County Social Services Board for rehiring an employee after County Social Services, the 22-county mental health region that includes the three counties, terminated their position, but it couldn’t because the funds are “locked up” until the trusts are modified or terminated.
The trusts, totaling about $640,000 of donated monies, were restricted to education, training and maintenance at the former Duncan Heights Residential Care Center, formerly known as the county home or county farm. The care center closed in 2016, and the supervisors sold the property in October, so the funds are no longer accessible for those purposes.
In November, Tim Anderson, a Garner attorney, was hired to work with County Attorney Blake Norman to modify the Mokry and Funnemark trusts into an endowment that could be accessed by the county on an annual basis for social services expenses.
Anderson, who attended the board’s meeting Monday, said trustees need to be named before they can move forward. He recommended the supervisors name three individuals “comfortable and active in the financial-investing markets” who aren’t active brokers and bankers.
“As we discussed last time, the three of you know the constituents of the county,” he said. “It does not have to be limited to residents of Hancock County. If any of you have the personal direct phone number for Warren Buffett, and he would do this, I would suggest you let Warren take charge. That would be a committee of one, but short of that, you know your constituents.”
Norman said the County Board could appoint a bank to serve as the fund’s trustee, but there are “pitfalls,” such as fees and turnover.
“I think any way you go you have to look at the longevity of who you put in, and that’s what we got to decide,” Supervisor Gary Rayhons said. “Do we want to look long-range with this or do we want to look short-range, I guess, as far as people we’re willing to put as trustees?”
If the county board didn’t modify the trusts into an endowment, it could terminate them and receive the entire balance with the stipulation of it being used for social services.