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Risk pool asks N.H. Supreme Court to extend $17.1 million payment deadline

One of the former Local Government Center’s risk pools yesterday asked the state Supreme Court for more time to deal with a $17.1 million bill that’s due Dec. 1.

Under an August 2012 order, Property-Liability Trust has until Dec. 1 to repay the $17.1 million that its sister risk pool, HealthTrust, gave it over the years to subsidize its operations. The LGC, which ran both risk pools, appealed the order to the Supreme Court, but the high court last November refused to stay the implementation of the order while the appeal is pending.

(The risk pools formally became independent Sept. 1 as part of a corporate reorganization that effectively dissolved the embattled LGC, though they continue to share a building in Concord.)

Yesterday, the Property-Liability Trust filed a new request with the court, asking it to stay the $17.1 million repayment until the case is decided, likely next year.

The issue? It may not have the money. As of the end of 2011, the most recent available annual report, Property-Liability Trust held net assets of less than $11.6 million.

“It is no secret that PLT is challenged by the need to make the $17.1 million payment. PLT does not believe that it is in its members or the public’s best interest to force it to make this payment prior to a ruling by the Supreme Court on the appeal,” said Wendy Lee Parker, the group’s executive director, in a statement. She took over the Property-Liability Trust on Sept. 30, replacing Peter Bragdon, who remains executive director of the larger HealthTrust.

Andru Volinsky, special counsel at the state Bureau of Securities Regulation, said the regulator would respond to the filing in court.

“It does appear to be something of a rehash of their filing when the appeal was first under way,” he said.

As for the group’s statement that repaying the money would pose a challenge, he called that a significant admission.

“This is their first public admission that they cannot pay the $17 million,” Volinsky said. “They’ve danced around it until now. . . . I am encouraged that they’ve at least made a partial admission of their financial status, and I’m hopeful that they’ll tell the full story someday.”

Property-Liability Trust last month hired a bankruptcy lawyer, Peter Baylor, but said it would not file for bankruptcy.

Volinsky declined to say what the bureau might do if the trust failed to make the Dec. 1 payment.

“There are a couple steps that have to happen in between, and that will affect the bureau’s thinking, so I’m not going to hypothesize,” he said.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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