EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 30, 2013

N.H. towns, school districts receive LGC refunds

By Doug Ireland

---- — Numerous Southern New Hampshire towns and school districts are glad they will receive thousands of dollars in insurance reimbursements from the Local Government Center — except for Salem.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Salem will not be allowed to intervene in a case before the court that prevents the town from receiving approximately $100,000 owed by the LGC.

Meanwhile, the town of Derry was recently notified it will receive $368,508 and its school system will receive $755,115.

“We are happy we are getting that back,” school superintendent Laura Nelson said.

The LGC, which provides health and property liability insurance coverage to communities throughout the state, was ordered by the court last year to refund $53 million to towns and school districts overcharged by the municipal organization.

Those overcharged include Salem, but the town was told it wouldn’t receive any money. That’s because it withdrew from the LGC more than a year ago because it could obtain more cost-effective insurance coverage through another provider.

The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation found the LGC violated state law by improperly collecting money and retaining unnecessary surplus funds. The organization also improperly transferred assets, subsidizing one insurance pool at the expense of the others, the bureau said.

The LGC also spent millions of dollars on unauthorized items, the bureau said.

Salem was one of four New Hampshire towns to fight for refunds. Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey was a member of the LGC board until he resigned last winter. The other towns are Durham, Northfield and Peterborough.

“We’re not very happy with that,” Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride Jr. said Friday. “The Supreme Court ruled we won’t be getting anything. We will continue to work with the other towns.”

But the Salem School District — still a member of the insurance pool — recently learned it would receive $757,172. The Salem Housing Authority was granted more than $15,000.

In addition to Salem and Derry, another local school district topping the list was Timberlane, which will get $1,065,848. School Administrative Unit 28 — representing Windham and Pelham — will receive $787,791. The Londonderry School District will get more than $139,000.

Local towns to receive town employee health insurance refunds include: Londonderry, $267,306; Windham, $152,796; Pelham, $127,463; Plaistow, $46,873; Kingston, $38,522; Hampstead, $36,026; Atkinson, $18,426; Danville, $13,916; Newton, $10,595. Some towns also receive reimbursement for dental insurance.

Despite the scandal that plagued the LGC, some town and school district officials said they will continue to buy insurance coverage and legal advice from the organization.

“We will continue to work with them and put in a system to prevent those mistakes from happening,” Nelson said.

Danville Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil said the LGC provides his community with cost-effective insurance coverage and beneficial municipal programs.

“We need to do our due diligence to make sure they do what’s legal, but they do bring a lot to the plate,” he said. “We turn to them a lot of times. We don’t have the support staff.”

LGC executive director George Bald, who joined the organization in February, said he is committed to making sure communities and school districts are getting the best possible service.