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Published June 18 2010

ND employers could get dividends

BISMARCK – North Dakota employers could see a 50 percent dividend credit from Workforce Safety and Insurance in the coming year.

The board of directors agreed to the rate recommendation at a meeting on Thursday.

“This is really good news for the employers in the state,” WSI Executive Director Bryan Klipfel said.

The credit would affect about 14,000 North Dakota employers who did not receive a credit last year due to the decline in the financial market.

WSI is required by law to issue premium dividends when its level of financial reserves and available surplus is above 140 percent of the actuarially established discounted reserve.

Finance Director Cindy Ternes said the June 30 estimate is 149.3 percent, or $392 million available net assets/surplus.

A 50 percent credit – the highest the board is allowed to recommend – brings that level down to 139.1 percent and allows a return of $81 million to North Dakota employers.

Before voting, board member Ed Grossbauer of Grand Forks expressed concern about the volatility in the market.

“I don’t want us to keep going back and forth with giving a 50 percent this year and not being able to give another one next year,” he said.

Board member John Dyste of Forman said he knows there was a strain as a result of employers not getting a credit last year.

“By issuing the dividend that we are proposing, we’re still at the high end of our surplus,” he said. “I don’t see where we as a board would want to keep the money in the surplus. It should go back to the premium payers.”

Gov. John Hoeven’s spokesman Don Canton said the governor intends to approve the WSI recommendation.

Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.