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LGC cuts 11 staff positions

Last modified: 9/29/2011 12:00:00 AM
The New Hampshire Local Government Center has cut its staff by 11 people, a move that comes days before a hearing is scheduled on charges that the nonprofit must return surplus money collected from cities and towns.

Executive Director Maura Carroll said the LGC's staff reductions are "totally unrelated" to the investigation by the state Bureau of Securities Regulation that alleges the organization improperly used money from their health and property insurance pools to subsidize a workers compensation pool. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

"What we did in this budget cycle was to look at how we maintain the administrative costs for all of our coverage programs . . . so that we can keep the rates as affordable as possible for all of our members," Carroll said.

The LGC provides services to cities, towns and school districts across the state, including administering health insurance for municipal workers, providing legal services and lobbying. The organization's 2012 budget, approved by its 31-member board earlier this month, eliminates 14.5 of its 112 staff positions, Carroll said. In total, 11 people were laid off Tuesday, she said.

Carroll said "there will be an impact, but we're going to work as hard as we can to provide the same level of service." The cuts were made "throughout the organization," including three insurance claim employees, an attorney, an employee in the communications department and field training workers, she said.

"I don't think you can say that we had 14.5 people that weren't doing anything," she said. The cuts could mean slower response times to requests from member communities and fewer locally-hosted training programs in favor of regional events, she said.

Earle Wingate, staff attorney at the Bureau of Securities Regulation, has said he believes the LGC owes municipalities more than $100 million in improperly used funds. The state's biggest unions have objected to the organization's practices, and yesterday public employee representatives questioned the reason for the staff cuts.

"I suspect that it is probably politically motivated in terms of the investigation," said Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees' Association.

Dave Lang, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, said the layoffs are "an attempt to look like they're being conservative."

"What should never be lost in their attempts to make themselves appear better is they have been significantly overcharging for health insurance at the expense of cities, towns and school districts," he said.

In a letter to the LGC's members sent Tuesday, Carroll sought to dispel any notion that the layoffs were linked to the charges the organization faces.

"We wanted to notify you of this event so that you would not see it in the media and wonder whether there was anything more to this than attention to budget detail," Carroll said. "I can assure you that this is simply good business practice and recognition that this economy requires responsible budgeting and our best attempts to stay lean."

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)


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