Thanks to a conscientious executive director at the district’s health insurance provider, HealthTrust Inc., I have just learned that Timberlane will be getting a minimum of $773,966.86 returned in August 2015. I suspected as much because the “Other Local Revenue” line of the revenue budget released a few days ago shows $817,550 with no explanation.* HealthTrust’s notification to our SAU was sent in October 2014.
Here we have another infuriating instance of the Mushroom Farm in action. First we had to fight to get the revenue budget, then we discover a sweet source of income known to the SAU but not mentioned to the board or the budget committee.
Why is this important? Well, this year we had $1.5 million returned to us which is why taxes in Sandown and Danville did not go up as much as they had been predicted to do. This HealthTrust money buffers the tax impact of irresponsibly large budget increases. When this money stops rolling in, as it will, we will suddenly be saddled with a huge budget and far less revenue to offset the tax impact . Even with flat budgets going forward, we will find our taxes continuing to go up considerably –maybe not in the 2015-2016 year we are now budgeting if the district also manages to preserve our $2 million surplus,– a big “if” — but certainly when this HealthTrust money dries up. This windfall money is a “return of surplus.” Of late, the cost of health insurance has been less than the premiums charged. This is not going to last indefinitely.
Here are the notifications the SAU received from HealthTrust Inc.
*Approximately 20% of HealthTrust return of surplus is owed to the employee contributors. Historically the district carries about $200,000 in unspecified “Other Local Revenue.” This added with 80% of the 2015 HealthTrust refund equals just about the projected $817,550.