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$2.61 million to be divvied up by LGC

CONCORD - Merrimack County government will receive a $293,600 check from the Local Government Center, the largest single check going to local governments this month as a result of the restructuring of its risk pools.

In all, the Local Government Center will return $2.61 million to 161 towns, cities and other local government agencies. Rounds of other refunds are scheduled for the future.

Big checks will also go to Hampton ($143,100), Seabrook ($132,300), Lebanon ($131,800) and Exeter ($106,900). A total list of communities and reimbursements is available at UnionLeader.com.

For years, the LCG has been criticized for retaining hefty surplus in insurance-like, self-funded accounts that provide liability protection and health care for municipalities and related government agencies such as housing authorities and water districts.

The LGC has said the reserves kept rates stable for members. But critics claimed the surplus should have been returned to its members rather that used for other purposes, such as a workers' compensation program.

The refunds are based on 2011 financial statements of risk pools maintained by the Local Government Center, said Maura Carroll, LGC executive director. The refunds represent net assets that exceed targeted reserve levels determined by LGC directors.

Carroll stressed that the refunds reported Thursday are not based on an August order of a hearing officer at the Bureau of Securities Regulation, which the LGC has appealed.

"Should the hearing officer's order be confirmed on appeal to the (New Hampshire) Supreme Court, the amount returned could increase, as the order has a lower permitted reserve level," Carroll said in an email.

This month's distribution involved the excess reserves in the medical risk pool. According to the LGC's website, upcoming distributions are:

-- Dental pool, $2.52 million; August 2013 distribution.

-- Medical pool, $2.65 million; August 2013 distribution.

-- Medical pool, $8.36 million, August 2013 distribution.

-- Property-liability pool, $1.7 million, August 2013 distribution.

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Mark Hayward may be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.

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