Momentum gathers for state contribution to system
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — Legislation that would restore a portion of the state contribution toward the retirement costs of school teachers, police officers and firefighters is pending in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. By a vote of 10 to 9, the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee has endorsed House Bill 413, which would require the state to pay 15 percent of the employer contribution beginning in fiscal year 2018.
The state has paid a share of pension costs for teachers, police and firefighters since the 1940s, when they were enrolled in separate retirement programs. In 1967, when the New Hampshire Retirement System was established, the state required municipalities and school districts to enroll these employees in the system and in return contributed 35 percent of the cost of their pensions. The state reduced its share to 30 percent in 2010, to 25 percent in 2011 and eliminated it altogether in 2012.
Laconia City Manager Scott Myers estimated that the city and the school district would be spared $240,000 and $300,000 in retirement costs respectively. This year, Myers expects the city's contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System to jump by $200,000, more than half the annual increase in expenditures permitted by the tax cap. Last week, in correspondence to the City Council, Myers urged them to support the bill and inform the House members who represent the city of its positive impact on the municipal budget.
The New Hampshire Municipal Association, which has aggressively lobbied in favor of the bill, estimates that the return to school districts in the Lakes Region would be about $86,200 in Alton, $70,600 in Barnstead, $215,300 in Gilford, $55,100 in Gilmanton, $196,700 in Inter-Lakes, $144,000 in Moultonborough, $202,300 in Newfound, $216,400 in Shaker Regional, $212,000 in Winnisquam Regional and $140,000 in Franklin.
The association estimates that in Belknap County the state contribution of 15 percent to the cost of pensions for police officers and firefighters would represent $40,000 in Alton, $30,400 in Barnstead, $79,000 in Belmont, $9,000 in Center Harbor, $107,300 in Gilford, $22,800 in Gilmanton, $47,600 in Meredith, $14,400 in New Hampton, $18,000 in Sanbornton and $45,000 in Tilton.
Altogether, a state contribution of 15 percent would reduce local government costs throughout the state by $40.8 million in 2018, $42.1 million in 2019, $43.4 million in 2020 and $44.7 million in 2021.
By recommending HB 413 "ought to pass," albeit by the narrowest of margins, the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee made a statement of policy. If the bill carries the House, it will be referred to the House Finance Committee, which is responsible for determining how to pay for it. Taken aback by the vote of the committee and perhaps awaiting for Governor Chris Sununu to present his budget, the leadership of the House has yet to schedule it for a vote, However, the bill must come to the House floor by Feb. 16.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the New Hampshire Municipal Association in October, Sununu, then a can date for governor, indicated In October, Sununu, then a candidate for governor, indicated that he was open to restoring the state contribution to retirement costs, but stopped short of specifying particular amount.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 658