Camden considers switching banks

By Nathan Hoskins - [email protected]

CAMDEN – The Camden Village Council met with representatives of Somerville Bank and First Financial during the first council meeting of 2023, on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Currently, the Village of Camden holds its accounts with First Financial. However, council began interviewing other banks in 2022 in an effort to find more suitable interest rates, and additional banking benefits for the village’s particular needs.

Council met virtually with representatives of Huntington Bank in 2022, but elected to explore other options while making their final decision.

According to Jodie Hunsucker of Somerville bank, should the village choose to bank with Somerville, they would be provided a SNB Free account, the first year’s checks free of charge, and free online banking. Somerville also offers an element of convenience, as they currently maintain a location in Camden.

However, Hunsucker acknowledged that Somerville does not send activity updates for the account, as First Finacial does. It was also pointed out by the First Finacial representative that the interest rates provided by Somerville are not as competitive as their peers.

The representative of First Financial argued banks who are quoting the village better rates are using statements from September, post-pandemic, and therefore the numbers are not credible. She also added the 3.5 percent interest rate offered by First Financial would be the company’s best selling point.

Among the benefits offered by First Finacial were ease of use, commercial privileges, and a long-time loyalty to Camden.

Councilmember Kelly Doran stated, “If we’re talking history, I’ll give you some history,” referencing the First Financial location in Camden, which has since been bought by Somerville. “We had five or six hundred thousand dollars in this bank over here, apparently, we had for a long time. I came on council and was on budget. We finally sorted out what we had, where we had it. Called First Financial, had them send me a print out. We were getting $300 a month in interest from First Financial.”

Doran went on to say “one phone call” later saw the interest rate go from $300 a month in interest, to $3,500 a month. According to Doran, he is now wary of the company moving forward.

“A lot of little old ladies’ money, little old men, poor people’s money that we could have put to use in this town when we had none,” concluded Doran.

“This isn’t change for change’s sake. We don’t want to change if we have to,” remarked Doran. However, council members expressed concern there may be more beneficial fiscal options for the village.

No official decision was made during the meeting, but council plans to continue searching for the best banking option for the village.

Camden Village Council meetings are public meetings held on the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.

By Nathan Hoskins

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057.

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057.