1st Quarter Reports Good, But Federal Scrutiny Trickles Down To Consumers

Our economy is not in the clear just yet, despite positive first quarter reports from local financial institutions.

Our economy still fares better than countless others around the country, but now we're told, local banks are paying for others' mistakes.

Local bank presidents say the overall health of their institutions is good.

J. Pat Hickman, President of Happy State Bank, says "income at this time last year was about $2.8 million, this year it's about $3.6 million. Our earnings are up about 40% this year so we're having a great year. Best year we've ever had."

Amarillo National Bank President Richard Ware says, "we were very pleased. Our earnings were up and we continue to pay dividends. One thing that we looked at was our past dues, which have actually come down."

In spite of all that, increased federal scrutiny because of failed banks has altered some of their typical operations, and it impacts you, their customers.

Hickman says, "there's a whole lot more paperwork now to do a home loan. We didn't make any sub prime loans, the exotic loans you hear about, but our consumers, our customers' paperwork is going up because of what the dang big banks did."

Ware says, "all banks have really gotten a bad deal because some of these horrible banks that have failed, when they went broke, the FDIC had to step in and we're putting in ten times more in insurance premiums this year than we did last year. It's costing $6 million."

Last year, it cost $600,000.

The increase could eventually be passed on to customers through higher rates and fees.

Those insurance premiums are due in September.

We also spoke with Smith Ellis of First Bank Southwest, who shares the frustration over federal scrutiny with Ware and Hickman, says even more federal regulations are coming down the pipe in the near future.