Lawmakers expand investment options for Lowell water utility sale proceeds | Lowell News

Hoosier lawmakers are unanimously supporting a Lowell initiative to invest the proceeds of its recent water system sale more aggressively than usually is permitted with government funds.

On Monday, the Indiana Senate voted 47-0 to send House Enrolled Act 1011 to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to be signed into law. It last month passed the House, 90-0.

The legislation authorizes Lowell to segregate its water utility sale proceeds from other town funds, contract with an investment adviser and deploy the funds in most kinds of investments except corporate stock and other equity securities.

Under current law, municipal funds generally must be invested in fixed income securities, such as treasury bills or top-rated money market funds, that essentially guarantee the security of the money invested — though usually at low interest rates.

Town officials told members of the General Assembly that Lowell expects to have approximately $16 to $17 million available to invest from the $24.5 million water system sale once the town pays off some debt service obligations.

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Putting that money in still-secure investments that generate revenue above and beyond what normally can be achieved will both help with immediate town needs and ensure the principal remains a town asset for generations to come, said John Yelkich, vice president of the Lowell Town Council.

State lawmakers briefly considered, but ultimately opted against, expanding the measure to give all Indiana municipalities the same opportunity to more aggressively invest their own windfalls, rather than limiting it to Lowell.

In 2015, the General Assembly approved a similar one-off plan allowing Porter County to seek higher returns on proceeds from the $160 million sale of its former county hospital.

The Lowell legislation was sponsored by state Reps. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron; Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point; Hal Slager, R-Schererville; Mike Andrade, D-Munster; and state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell.

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