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Gilford board to hold hearing on what to do with $67k health insurance refund

GILFORD — Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday that town is receiving $66,659 in premium refunds for their health and dental insurance from HeathTrust, formerly known as the Local Government Center.

The selectmen are holding a public hearing October 8 and have expressed a desire to take $12,543 of the money and reimburse the insured employees and retirees for their fair share of the premiums they have paid for their insurance and deposit the balance of $54,166 in the general fun.

The refunds stemmed from excess premiums paid by New Hampshire communities from 2009 to 2011.

Dunn said yesterday that the town now uses Health Trust for its property and casualty insurance but gets it's health insurance from a different underwriter.

He said when the payouts were ordered by state regulators, the town opted to "take the cash" instead of using is as a credit against future insurance premiums

The Bureau of Securities Regulation found HealthTrust violated state law by collecting too much money from communities and improperly transferring assets from the health and dental insurance pool to subsidize other risk pools such as workers compensation and property and casualty insurance.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 01:00

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Belknap County lawmakers agree to transfer funds

LACONIA — At a meeting that stretched for two-and-a-half hours last night, the executive committee of the Belknap County Convention last night approved requests of the Belknap County Commission to transfer more than $600,000 within the budget to maintain operations of the nursing home, county jail and sheriff's department. Only a request to transfer $2,000 to fund the salary , benefits and associated cost of the county administrator was denied.

"This was a circus," exclaimed Paula Child of Gilford, who said her husband is a resident of the nursing home. She rose to speak after the committee voted to adjourn the meeting, surprised that Representative Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) failed to offer members of the public an opportunity to speak. "I'm appalled at what I've seen here," she continued. "Appalled. You gave them a budget. Let them use it." Child was especially troubled by the committee's discussion of funding the wages of nurses at the nursing home. "Do any of you," she asked the committee, "have a license to run the nursing home?"

The meeting was convened to consider the requests for transfers prompted by the preliminary injunction issued by Justice James D. O'Neill, III of Belknap County Superior Court last month, which prohibits the Belknap County Commission from either spending in excess of any line-item appropriation of the budget adopted by the convention or transferring more than $300 from one line item to another without the approval of the Executive Committee.

While county officials anticipate more requests for transfers during the balance of the fiscal years, which ends on December 31, the most controversial issue promises to arise over health insurance for county employees. In adopting its budget, the convention declined to fund the annual increase in the employer's contribution to health insurance premiums. The commission held that it was bound by the its collective bargaining agreements with the State Employees Association (SEA) , which represents county employees, to fund the increase. Consequently, the commissioners transferred $237,654 from more than 100 lines in the budget to do so.

The commission's action prompted the litigation leading to the court order. As it happens, the Local Government Center, in the course of its settlement with political subdivisions, has granted the county a credit against its health insurance premium in 2014. Consequently, the commission is confident that applying the credit will enable the county to fully fund its share of health insurance without exceeding the amount appropriated by the convention.

However, Representative Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, served notice that what she called a "rebate" should be treated as an unanticipated revenue and not applied to offset expenses for health insurance.

Worsman was echoed by Representative Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) who insisted that any one-time money should be treated as a windfall and placed in a holding account, which could only be spent with the approval of the convention. Anything else, he suggested, "is not a proper use of money." Vadney called the discussion over transfers "playing in the weeds," stressing that health insurance is the paramount issue. "We want to know what's happening," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:29

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Stolen car found torched in Gilford

GILFORD — Police from two communities are investigating a car fire over the weekend in the woods off Boyd Road.

The car, a 2010 Volvo CV C70, is not a common car. The vehicle had been reported stolen over the summer from Bay Street in Laconia and city police had been investigating the theft.

Gilford police Lt. Kris Kelley said the car fire was first noticed by Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier who was off duty and hiking. He apparently saw the black smoke coming from the area of Ramblin' Vewe Farm.

He said Gilford firefighters extinguished the fire that was reported around 7 a.m. Sunday, but an attempt at a K-9 search for the driver was thwarted by the number of first responders who arrived to put out the fire. He said the scent was indistinguishable at that point.

Kelley said the Laconia Police had made contact with the driver around 4 a.m. but he sped away.

Laconia Police Sgt. Mike Finogle confirmed Laconia officers made contact with the car around 4 a.m. while it was behind the Sacred Heart Church on Union Avenue, but he said the driver sped away toward Strafford Street.

Because of safety concerns, Finogle said no pursuit was made.

He said the car found burned was the same car.

Both departments said the investigation is active and ongoing.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:36

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18 year-old to serve a year in jail for Main St. robbery


LACONIA — An 18-year-old Meredith man received a suspended 3½- to 7-year prison yesterday for robbing a mentally challenged man on Main Street in July.

Christopher Skinner was also sentenced in Belknap County Superior Court to serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for initially lying to police about his identity.

All of the prison sentence was suspended, dependent on his behavior, but he will serve the 12 months in jail. He was credited with 77 days for time already served.

Judge James O'Neill III initially rejected a more lenient plea of 12 months for the robbery and an additional 12 months suspended for lying to police.

In rejecting Skinner's first plea, O'Neill said he wanted to see some kind of prison sentence, whether it was suspended or not. Should Skinner commit any crime after his release from the house of corrections, he could serve the entire suspended State Prison sentence.

O'Neill said robbery occurred "in the very shadow of this courthouse," and 12 months in the house of corrections was too lenient. The judge also learned there was a witness and the victim, though challenged, was capable of testifying.

Assistant Belknap County Prosecutor Adam Wood told O'Neill the early morning of July 8, Skinner and another man came up behind the victim who was walking near the Landmark Inn. Skinner tried to grab the victim's backpack and demanded all of the money in his pockets.

When the victim told him he didn't have any money, Skinner told his friend to "get the Glock."

Wood that the friend ran away and there never was a gun. An employee of the Landmark Inn witnessed the robbery and called police.

Wood and Skinner's attorneys, who were from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, had initially agreed to the more lenient plea because of Skinner's age, the fact that he had no criminal record, and that he agreed to plead guilty almost immediately after he was indicted.

Skinner told O'Neill that he was sorry for what he did, that he knew it was wrong, and that he wanted to put this part of his life behind him.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:14

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