A discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting began with elected officials health insurance and ended with a decision to add $150,000 to the proposed budget for employee raises.
must be defined six months before they are elected, so any changes would not go into effect until after the 2013 election. About $150,000 for elected officials health insurance in the fiscal year starting May 1, so the employee raises eat away at the projected budget surplus.
Yorkville city employees have not received a raise in four years.
Aldermen put off approving the budget draft for at least two weeks. They voted to table it until their April 10 meeting.
Ward 1 Alderman George Gilson Jr. was listing concerns with the city’s long-term budget plan when Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot challenged Gilson to opt out of the city’s medical plans. Kot plans to opt out July 1, so he suggested the city could afford a $126,000 fix for a flooding issue in Sunflower Estates if Gilson also declined city medical benefits.
“Right now, anyone can opt out and voluntarily save the city money,” Kot said.
Gilson said the city was wasting money on projects such as bike trails, the REC Center and a $100,000 road maintenance study.
Ward 2 Alderman Jackie Milschewski said the road study benefitted the entire community, while Gilson’s insurance benefitted only him, his family and his employer.
Gilson said giving up the city’s medical benefits would have a minimal financial impact on his family nor his employer. He also called being an alderman “a second full-time job.”
“I volunteered to do this, and I love it,” Gilson said. “But please don’t call this a part-time job. After adding up the hours I put into public service, my pay comes out to be about $3 per hour. And by the way, I pay part of my premiums like the rest of the employees. This isn’t free health care.”
Meanwhile, Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spears said the issue was politically motivated. She pointed to Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling and former Ward 3 Alderman Robyn Sutcliff claiming last year that they did not realize how much the insurance coverage cost the city. However, both sat on the city’s Administration Committee (Sutcliff was the chair), which handled the city insurance plans, Spears said.
“Either they are not doing their job and paying attention to what is being discussed during the meeting, or just like I said it’s politically motivated,” Spears said.
Both Sutcliff and Teeling also supported former Mayor Valerie Burd, who from the city from 2007 to 2011. Toward the end of her term, Burd was treated for breast cancer.
Sutcliff received $38,698 in city medical benefits from 2008 to 2011, while Teeling received about $2,000 in medical benefits from 2009 to 2011, according to information Patch received through the Freedom of Information Act.
In August, Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo, Gilson, Spears, Kot, Ward 3 Aldermen Chris Funkhouser and Marty Munns and City Clerk Beth Warren were receiving some or all of the city’s medical benefits, according to information Patch received through the Freedom of Information Act.