Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers is floating a plan to require financial institutions to disclose more and perhaps do more about investing in the city if they want to hold city cash. But it’s not clear how much impact the proposed changes would create.

Under a proposal sponsored on Summers’ behalf by Ald. Tom Tunney, the treasurer’s office would get more information more quickly about firms that bid to hold an average of $500 million to $1 billion a day in liquid city assets.

Some information now goes to the city comptroller but, under the proposal, the treasurer would get it, too. And there would be more detail, for instance, full Community Reinvestment Act reports submitted by banks under federal law, rather than summaries or the final ratings themselves.

Some disclosures would be new, such as the number of persons employed by the financial institution at its Chicago location(s); how many of them are women and members of minority groups; and details on how much credit support the institution offers the city and sister agencies such as Chicago Public Schools.

Summers says he’ll compile this data into a “scorecard” for each institution that gets city work, and make it public.

“We’re trying to provide more accountability,” the treasurer said. “We want to hold the banks to a higher standard.”

Summers’ spokeswoman confirmed later that the new standards, which are awaiting a hearing by the City Council Finance Committee, will be only “an element” in whether an institution gets city work. Other factors will include the rate of interest it pays on city deposits and what types of fees it charges.

The city now has 18 official depositories but has funds in only 10 of them, with the bulk of the money in just two. “Some are good actors and others not so good,” Summers said. The new data format will make it easier for officials and voters to judge, he said.

The proposal also would open the depository process to institutions beyond traditional banks, such as Goldman Sachs and the Federal Home Loan Bank, Summers said.

Depositories generally are certified for three-year periods, with the new cycle to begin next Jan. 1.