LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention's Support Subcommittee (formerly the Administration Subcommittee) learned when it met Friday that a refund from a health insurance provider will increase from $92,848 last year to $254,000 this year.
In addition to that reimbursement from Health Trust, the successor to the Local Government Center (N.H. Municipal Association), which was ordered by the New Hampshire Supreme Court to make the refunds following an investigation by the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation, there will be a separate $75,000 refund from Primex, another insurer ordered to make reimbursements to government entities which it had insured.
The Local Government Center was found to have been using excess premiums from its health insurance policies to subsidize losses incurred in a new worker's compensation insurance product line.
County Finance Director Glenn Waring said that the refunds are likely to continue, but not to the extent that they reached this year.
He said that the Health Trust refund will continue as long as Belknap County remains a member of the trust.
County Commissioners have expressed the intention to put the health insurance contract for county employees up for bid and recently asked county Administrator Debra Shackett to complete a census which would show what kinds of health insurance programs are used by county employees in order to prepare bid documents.
Subcommittee members asked whether it was possible to reduce the amount to be raised by taxes by the amount of the anticipated refunds and were told that it would entail taking the amount out of both expenses and revenue, which would make it ''invisible''. That prompted Herb Vadney of Meredith, chairman of the subcommittee, to say that he thought it was important that the transactions be more visible to taxpayers.
Committee members also got to look at adjusted lines in the proposed 2015 budget brought about by the desire of the new commissioners to end the practice of atributing a percentage of administrative costs to the nursing home budget.
The adjustments showed administrative salaries increasing by $35,000, from $207,200 in the budget proposed by former commissioners, to $242,600, health insurance from $65,875 to $76,200, payroll tax from $18,400 to $21,200 and retirement from $23,000 t0 $26,900.
Increases in the Finance Office showed wages increasing from $121,000 to $192,900, health insurance from $33,490 to $59,200, payroll tax from $9,700 to $15,300 and retirement from $13,500 to $21,500.
Committee members suggested that it made more sense to spread out the cost, as has been the normal practice of the county for several years, in order to assign the full cost of operating the nursing home to the facility in order to ensure maximum Medicaid reimbursements from the state and federal governments.
Rep. George Hurt of Gilford said ''if we don't put them back over there we have no chance of getting reimbursements.''
The proposed budget also consolidates all county legal expenses into one line and and sets a total of $30,000 for the county. Last year nearly $100,000 was expended and $60,000 of the bills accumulated remain unpaid.
Shackett said that county legal expenses amounted to $30,000 in 2012 and $27,000 in 2013 and that $40,000 was appropriated for last year.
Committee members also discussed the relationship of the county with several organizations of which it is a member, including the New Hampshire Association of Counties and the New Hampshire Municipal Association and the need for them to be more useful to the county.
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