Although a few are being monitored by state and federal regulators, Utah's credit unions are generally in good financial health, authorities say.
According to Bauer Financial Reports Inc.'s rating system, nearly half of Utah's 168 credit unions are in better-than-average financial shape with capital ratios higher than 6 percent. The report is based on June 30 data.Only three were given the worst possible rating, and state authorities say one has been merged with a healthier institution and the other two are being carefully monitored.
Deposits in all Utah credit unions are federally insured for up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration, officials said.
The state's largest credit union, Riverdale's America First, gets five stars on the rating system created by Bauer Financial, of Coral Gables, Fla.
In general, five stars means the institution has capital on hand equaling at least 9 percent of its assets. America First has assets of $609 million and has 9.86 per cent of that in capital, according to the report.
The second-largest credit union, Mountain America, based in Salt Lake City, gets three stars, meaning its capital is between 3 and 6 percent. Mountain America has assets of $284 million and a capital ratio of 5.40 percent.
"In general, things are pretty good," said Stewart Vernon, supervisor of credit unions for the state's Financial Institutions Department. "We have a few trouble spots and we're carefully monitoring them."
The list shows nearly 50 credit unions with five stars, putting them on Bauer's "Safest Credit Unions" list. And 38 more get four stars, meaning capital is between 6 percent and 9 percent.
As for the troubled institutions, one Murray School District Credit Union was merged last year with another healthier institution, leaving only two institutions on the Bauer list with zero stars.
The two are Bonneville Credit Union of Bountiful, with assets of $8.1 million and regulatory capital of less than 1 percent, and Acorn Credit Union of Salt Lake City, with $2.621 million in earnings and 3 percent capital - but a loss in the first six months of 1990 of $220,000.
Vernon said there is no reason for members of either credit union to panic, because merger talks for the Bonneville Credit Union are in place and Acorn is being monitored closely. Neither is in any danger of being liquidated, he said.
Northwest Credit Union of Salt Lake City received a rating of one star. With assets of $25 million, Northwest has a capital ratio of 3.2 percent and posted a $513,000 loss last year.
Millard County Credit Union in Fillmore also got one star, and reported capital of less than 1 percent on assets of $8.175 million. Vernon said the state is monitoring the two closely and sees no threat of failure.
Credit unions in Utah have suffered along with other financial institutions because of economic downturns, said David Adams, president of the Utah League of Credit Unions.
"Problem loans are their biggest trouble spot," he said. "It's important that people become more aware of the strengths of their depository institutions. But I just hope they'll all recognize that federal deposit insurance is what's important."