County to receive $254,000 health insurance refund this year, up from $92,848

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.

Corrigan & Eddy to contest selectboard seat; 6 running for election to Gilford School Board

GILFORD — There will be some new blood on the Board of Selectmen this year as current Budget Committee Chair Phyllis Corrigan will be challenged by Dale Channing "Chan" Eddy for seat left open by the retirement of John O'Brien.

Corrigan has served on the Budget Committee for 12 of the past 13 years.

"I left for a year but they asked me to come back," she said.

Eddy is a member of the Planning Board and has recently be serving as Gilford's representative to the Lakes Region Public Access Board of Director, where he is the chair.

Six people are vying for three spots on the town's Budget Committee — incumbent Norm Silber, past board member Sean Murphy, Joy Hall, life-ling resident Harry H. Bean III, Zoning Board of Adjustment Chair J. Scott Davis and Leslie Suranyi.

Incumbent Alan Voivoid decide not to seek a second term and the Board Chair is Corrigan who will be running for selectmen.

Three seats on the School Board are up for election this year. Jack Landow is the only candidate for a special one-year term created last year by the resignation of Allan Demko. Landow was appointed to the position by the School Board and will now likely be elected on his own.

 Two, regular three-year terms are to be filled from a field of five candidates. Sue Allen is the only incumbent running as Kurt Webber declined to seek re-election to another term. She is joined on the ballot by Pamela Hayes, Jennifer McGreevey, Christopher McDonough and David "Skip" Murphy.

Election day is Tuesday, March 10.

Longtime Alton PD K-9 'Zeke' dies at age 11

ALTON — Police Chief Ryan Heath announced the loss of the K-9 "Zeke" yesterday.
He said "Zeke", who had been with the department for 11 years, died after a brief illness Thursday.

"Zeke" was a long-haired German Shepherd who came to the department as a puppy from Michigan. K-9 handler and Patrol Officer Chris Johnson, a certified working dog trainer, trained him.

Heath said that "Zeke" was 11-years-old and had recently been taken off patrol and used specifically for drug searches.

"He was one of the best drug dogs I've ever seen," Heath said.

Heath said the Alton Police have a second dog, "Siren", also a German Shepard who came from the same Michigan breeder. She is also trained in both drugs detection and apprehension.

He said Johnson worked both dogs at the same time and had a split cage in the rear of his cruiser. Trained by Johnson, Heath said "Siren" will take over both jobs for the department.

Heath said "Zeke" was a special favorite of the Alton community and used to perform with Johnson at a variety of community and school events. He was known for his gentle demeanor and for his performances around the state.

The department is planning some kind of community memorial for "Zeke" and Heath said he will be letting the general public know what time and where the ceremony will be once the details are finalized.

He said "Zeke" is also memorialized on the Alton Police Department Facebook page and invites anyone to go there and leave a message for Officer Johnson and his family.