Editor's note: I've added comments to the bottom of this article from two aldermen that came after the article was originally posted. Also, the projected cost, per official, for medical benefits this fiscal year is attached to this article as a PDF. For an explanation of the city's insurance and health reimbursement arrangement, see this article.
As Yorkville officials are poised to begin discussing the next budget, several support continuing to offer themselves medical benefits projected to cost the city more than $100,000 a year.
The city is expected to spend at least $121,955 for medical, dental and vision insurance for seven of the 11 eligible officials for the current fiscal year, which ends April 30.
Assuming that the same officials elect to use the same types of plans in the coming years and the overall costs increase 15 percent a year, the city’s costs would escalate to $145,054 next year; $159,560 in 2014; $175,515 in 2015; and $193,067 in 2016; according to projections provided by Mayor Gary Golinski, who said they were prepared for upcoming budget discussions.
Golinski, who does not use the city’s insurance plans, said he wants to reduce the insurance program’s impact on the budget. The city cannot change elected officials’ compensation packages in the middle of their terms, but leaders could make changes now that would go into effect in future years as officials were elected or re-elected, Golinski said.
“I would support anything that lessens the taxpayers’ burden of providing health care for part-time elected officials,” Golinski said.
Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling also said reductions should be made. Teeling but previously used the city’s dental and vision insurance for two years.
“We cut everything, laid off employees of this city, but we haven't cut our aldermen’s budget,” Teeling said.
Meanwhile, Ward 3 Alderman Marty Munns supported maintaining the benefit option, indicating elected officials in many places (including Kendall County Board members) receive benefits. The vast majority—98 percent of the residents he has spoken with—don’t object to them, he said.
“The insurance benefit is the only benefit we get as elected officials,” Munns said. “We all work hard, and only get paid about $5 an hour.”
Aldermen each are paid about $6,000 annually but could more than double their compensation depending on what health plan, if any, they choose. The city’s is about $500 a month for a single plan and $2,000 a month for a family plan.
Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo indicated he decided to use the city’s insurance after he was elected this spring because it was a good deal. He said he pays a portion of the premium costs as any employee would.
Colosimo supports continuing to offer elected officials the benefits.
“I agree with it with the past administration; I agree with it with this administration,” Colosimo said. “And I’ll agree with it for the next administration.”
Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spears, who uses the city's medical benefits, declined to comment for this article.
“I’m not really pleased with Patch,” Spears said when asked about her insurance coverage Thursday. “You let so many people on there with alias names. It’s a joke.”
Ward 2 Aldermen Larry Kot and Jacquelyn Milschewski, Ward 1 Alderman George Gilson Jr., and City Clerk Beth Warren did not respond to requests for comment sent via e-mail Wednesday.
Ward 3 Alderman Chris Funkhouser, who uses the city’s health benefits, said he would consider the entire budget situation during upcoming budget discussions before forming an opinion on the matter.
“That’s all dependent on how the budgetary discussions go,” Funkhouser said.
From Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot: "Barring any unforeseen issues with my health insurance carriers, I will be opting out of the City of Yorkville health insurance coverage effective July 1st. This is the next date the State of Illinois allows employees to made changes to health care benefits. I am in an unique situation in which I can pick my health insurance coverage. In light of the City of Yorkville's budget situation, I believe the money the City of Yorkville spends on my health insurance can be better spent on other city needs."
From Ward 2 Alderman Jackie Milschewski: "I do not personally use the insurance. I have received several phone calls from residents who don't support this benefit. I feel the matter should be reviewed."