FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2019
Contact: HCG Chairman Russell Peotter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 413-575-9388
For more than 2 years HCG (The Hampshire Council of Governments) has been seeking a solution to the unsustainable financial burden posed by the retirement and health care liabilities of former county employees. When County government was abolished in 1999, the Hampshire model was unique in the Commonwealth. Its financial structure has not worked as originally envisioned and the organization has struggled to find sustainable revenue for most of its life. Recognizing that time to create a solution is limited, we have created a plan and are working to achieve it.
Put simply, the Plan has three steps:
First, to monetize HCG’s assets and put the resulting funds in trust to pay the liabilities down over their life. HCG’s major assets include several energy-related businesses and some real estate; most notably the historic Hampshire County Courthouse. We are currently in discussions with appropriate partners regarding all these assets.
Second, we are seeking partners to take on HCG’s successful public programs and the HCG employees who run them. These include the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP of the Pioneer Valley), the Hampshire-Franklin Tobacco Free Community Partnership and the Regional Purchasing Co-op.
Finally, we plan to ultimately cease operations. This will include transferring responsibility for several former County roles. Most important is transferring Trusteeship of the Hampshire Group Insurance Trust (GIT) to the Trust’s Insurance Advisory Committee. The GIT is financially strong, and we believe that our current Trust Agreement allows for this transfer.
Members of the HCG legislative delegation were briefed on the situation just before the New Year. We believe the legislators support the steps that HCG is taking to address this situation and will work collaboratively with the Council to seek the best possible outcome.
The current estimated total of the liabilities is $4.7 million, and we anticipate approximately $800,000 in administrative, legal and employment costs to bring HCG to closure. We believe that the total of all HCG’s assets currently exceeds that at $5.5 million, but the ongoing drain on cash is pressing and we wish to execute on this plan as expeditiously as possible to avoid as many difficulties as possible.
We regret the disruption this will cause. HCG will continue to do its best to serve its clients and customers, employees, and the citizens of Hampshire County. We are grateful for the leadership and assistance of our legislative delegation.