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Low-Income CU Is Planned

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-Organizers of a low-income credit union being planned for the community of Barelas are requesting a $200,000 grant from the state legislature to help it get a charter. The money would help organizers make plans and go through the federal chartering process with NCUA. The request was approved last week by the Senate Finance Committee and will be considered by the House Finance Committee. The credit union is being sponsored by the Barelas Community Development Corp.

NCUF Awards $150K Grant In NM

ALBQUERQUE, N.M.-The National CU Foundation said it has provided a three-year $150,000 grant to fund a matched savings program for low- and moderate-income residents of New Mexico. The program will be administered by the CU Association of New Mexico and the Northwest New Mexico Community Development Corp. Plans call for the opening of more than 100 individual retirement accounts through at least four credit unions, which will match the individuals' savings 3-to-one.

Suit Seeks To Block Diebold

SAN FRANCISCO-The Financial & Security Products Association, which represents servicers of ATMs, said last week it has asked a federal court to block Diebold Inc. from enforcing a policy prohibiting third-party maintenance companies from buying any spare parts or diagnostic software from Diebold to service Diebold ATMs. The ATM servicers' groups said the Diebold policy has the effect of preventing third parties from providing necessary upgrades and other maintenance, including renovations for Triple DES compliance, on Diebold machines.

The suit claims that Diebold is requiring all owners/operators of its machines to purchase new ATM keyboards and encryption software from Diebold and have a Diebold technician perform the installation. A Diebold spokesman said the company was disappointed the servicers have decided to continue to pursue the litigation.

"We were in settlement talks and they broke off the talks," Joseph Richardson of Diebold told The Credit Union Journal. "Their demands are unreasonable. It's out company's duty to vigorously protect our substantial investment in our intellectual property while at the same time accommodating our customers by allowing them to use anyone they choose to use to service their equipment."

Health America To Intro HSAs

WASHINGTON-HealthAmerica CU, one of the first credit unions to offer its members tax-deferred Health Savings Accounts, was eager to jump into the new federal program.

"Small employers are really looking closely at this program," Maury Pilver, president of the Jacksonville, Fla., credit union, told attendees of NCUA's Access Across America Workshop. "They see this as an answer to the problem of being squeezed by the HMOs,"

And it's not just small businesses that are interested. "Most of the major employers are looking at HSAs as an alternative to traditional health care plans," he asserted. Attendees to the conference, held in conjunction with CUNA's annual government affairs conference, were also urged to offer the special health accounts to their employees as an added benefit. HSAs enable consumers to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.

CUNA Mutual Offers HSA Support

MADISON, Wis.-CUNA Mutual Group has introduced a new administrative support program to help credit unions offer tax-deferred Health Savings Accounts to their members.

The program will start April 1, in time to start new HSAs for this year's April 15 Tax-Day deadline, and provide credit unions with operational forms for HSAs; training for credit union staff; marketing tools to boost member awareness and education; and a toll-free phone number to answer HSA questions.

Health Savings Accounts are being viewed by credit union leaders as a way to increase deposit growth, plus add non-interest income from administrative and transaction fees. Proponents say the accounts can also build and enhance relationships with small businesses looking for a depository institution for the health accounts opened by their employees.

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