CONCORD, N.H. -- A dozen New Hampshire towns have filed a complaint arguing they are being deprived of their share of $52 million being refunded by the group that manages health insurance pools for public workers and retirees.
The Bureau of Securities Regulation ordered the Local Government Center to return the money in August after finding that it violated state law by improperly collecting and retaining unnecessary surplus funds, improperly transferring assets and spending money for purposes beyond what is allowed by law. The center is appealing that order to the state Supreme Court, but in the meantime, has said it plans to return the money via insurance premium "holidays" to its current members.
In a complaint made public Monday, Durham, Peterborough and 10 other towns say it’s outrageous and unfair to taxpayers that they can’t get cash refunds because they have taken their business elsewhere and are no longer members.
"After all the problems with LGC programs that have been identified by the (securities bureau), is it asking too much to have a plan to refund the surplus to the taxpayers of member communities, by year of participation, in cash?" Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner and Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig said in a news release. Joining their complaint were the towns of Auburn, Bennington, Canaan, Greenfield, Henniker, Lyndeborough, Northfield, Plainfield, Raymond and Temple. But the group believes at least 10 additional towns and school districts are in the same position.
But David Frydman, general counsel for the Local Government Center, pointed out that the securities bureau’s order specifically said that any community that left the system before the order was issued would not be eligible for refunds. And he said the refund plan is modeled after orders the bureau issued in other cases, which made continuing membership a requirement for refund eligibility.
"We’re trying to apply both common sense and the order’s requirements," he said Monday.
Communities that have remained Local Government Center members can get cash instead of premium holidays, he said, if they request checks in writing.