Were taxpayers defrauded by the LGC?
Why our School Board is confused as to what to do with the refunded surplus from Local Government Center is a little perplexing to me, to say the least. The money belongs to us, the taxpayers — we paid it through increases in our property taxes. School district employees should be reimbursed the appropriate amount they overpaid (with the new contract on July 1, 2011, employees paid 5 percent of their health insurance premiums for the 2011-2012 school year), and the taxpayers refunded the rest.
When the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation investigated LGC (Local Government Center) they found “that for years, the LGC overcharged communities for health insurance premiums and improperly used funds.” What this means to taxpayers is that the LGC charged our school districts higher premiums than were necessary, which created an enormous surplus of premiums.
According to the Aug. 2, 2011 report by the NH Bureau of Securities Regulation, “These operational violations of RSA 5-B:5, I (c) result from the actions and practices of the LGC, Inc. and its entities that improperly accrued and retained unnecessary surplus funds, improperly transferred assets and improperly expended funds for purposes beyond those permitted in the statute, and failure to return excess funds to political subdivisions which are members of each individual pooled risk management program.”
Did this impact, Dick Bergeron, then Superintendent of the ConVal School District, when he wrote in October 2011 saying “We expect major cost increases in the employee benefits area. These include: retirement; approximately $100,000 and insurance rate increases of approximately $510,000.”
The cost of those premium increases were passed on to the employees and to local taxpayers, who paid the balance. Therefore, our school district budget was significantly increased, requiring an increase in the local property tax rates for our member towns. Well, LGC was ‘caught’ and ordered to return the surplus monies to the municipalities.
In this reader’s opinion, if the School Board votes to keep any of the refund, then they become, for all intents and purposes, an “accessory-after-the-fact,” to the peculation (definition: the wrongful appropriation or embezzlement of shared or public property, usually by a person or entity entrusted with the guardianship of that property) initially perpetrated by LGC. I urge each and everyone of you to contact your ConVal School Board representative regarding this issue. Our ConVal School Board, year after year, continues to ask the taxpayers to fund an ever-increasing budget despite significant drops in student enrollment, thus increasing the already over-inflated property tax rate due to this prior “overcharge” by LGC.
Is there any other fair way to deal with this surplus other than to refund it to those who paid it?
Teresa M. Cadorette is a resident of Peterborough.