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Yorkville Releases Costs for Elected Officials' Health Insurance

The city is spending more money on health insurance for its elected officials as more choose to use employee medical, dental or vision coverage.

Yorkville has spent more than $250,000 on health, dental and vision insurance for its elected officials in the past four years, according to information Yorkville Patch received through a Freedom of Information Act request.

City officials declined to release which elected officials chose to use city medical benefits, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Yorkville Patch is asking the state’s public access counselor to review that decision.

However, city officials did reveal that the city paid $71,854.86 for health insurance for six elected officials and their dependents in the most recent fiscal year. Seven elected officials chose to use the city’s dental and vision insurance, for a cost to the city of $7,599.96 and $1,099.44, respectively.

The issue surfaced last month as Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling suggested looking at the policy before the next election.

Three of the 11 elected officials used health, dental and vision insurance in fiscal year 2007-2008, which cost the city $46,227.92, according to the FOIA response. The total cost increased to $56,025.36 in 2008-2009 and $78,818.64 in 2009-2010. (For more details, see the FOIA response attached as a PDF to this article.)

These benefits are optional and are offered on top of the . Yorkville’s mayor is paid $8,500 a year, plus $100 for each City Council meeting he or she attends, according to city code. Aldermen get $3,600, plus the $100 per City Council meeting. If they attend two meetings a month, the mayor receives about $910 a month and each alderman is paid $500 a month.

If they choose to take the medical benefits, elected officials pay a portion of the premiums. For the fiscal year starting Sunday, May 1, an official would pay $41 a month toward the $467.06 monthly premium for employee-only HMO health insurance. An official would pay $90 toward the $1,462.04 monthly premium for family HMO coverage. Those figures do not include premiums for dental or vision insurance.

Aldermen voted, 7-1, in March 2007 to give elected officials access to medical benefits available to city employees. Before voting, a handful of aldermen stated the medical benefits might encourage more people to run for those offices, according to the March 13, 2007, meeting minutes.  

Voting to allow elected officials access to medical benefits were then-aldermen:

• Joe Besco (Ward 4)
• Jason Leslie (Ward 1)
• Gary Golinski (Ward 2)
• Paul James (Ward 1)
• Marty Munns (Ward 3)
• Valerie Burd (Ward 2)
• Rose Ann Spears (Ward 4)

Alderman James Bock (Ward 3) cast the lone nay vote.

The vote took place about a month before the 2007 local election, when three of the seven local races each had three candidates. The other four races each had two candidates.

The 2009 local races had a three-way race for Ward 1 aldermen and two candidates competing for Ward 2 aldermen. Ward 3 Alderman Marty Munns and Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling did not face opponents.

In the most recent election, the races for city clerk and treasurer were uncontested. Each of the four open aldermen seats had two candidates. Three candidates were listed on the ballot for mayor, although Robert Gryder publicly withdrew from the race weeks before Election Day.

 

Here's a chart of the city's costs for elected officials' health, dental and vision insurance:

Fiscal year Cost 2007-08  $46,227.92 2008-09  $56,025.36 2009-10  $78,818.64 2010-11  $80,554.26 Total  $261,626.18
Rich T May 03, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Todd, I think you are partially correct. The big difference is that your company has a LEADER who made the decision for the benefit of the company. "Even in my private sector job, we give up raises and such so that we may keep fellow employees." I'm pretty sure you, personally, didn't submit a recommendation to your boss to reduce your pay to help someone else. Yorkville's leader/mayor has enjoyed the spoils of war for 4 years. Why rock the boat when you are getting it on the taxpayers' dime? I'm certain the new leaders will at least discuss the issue.
It all comes out in the wash May 03, 2011 at 02:09 PM
This was voted on in 2007 and all council members VOTED. The fact is for the new FY we have an expense that was brought up for discussion and it lasted about 5 minutes. So its obvious that those who participate did not want this cat out of the bag. They had an opportunity prior to the budget being passed to OPT OUT which did not happen so come Mid-May we shall see how many are participating at the expense of tax payers. My guess is that those Alderman who could have insurance from their own employeer are receiving some compensation because they opt out and decided to let the people of Yorkville pay. When you cut jobs, cut city needed services, ask workers of the city to take time off without pay then you too should participate. This is wrong and I hope the people of Yorkville showe up and let the new council know. Remember this new council ran on Fiscal Conservative. Now they need to walk that talk.
Fred Bridge May 03, 2011 at 03:51 PM
It is plain wrong that part-time government employees are getting medical benefits. I don't know of any private industry employees offering part-time employees medical benefits. It would be extemely rare for any employer (outside of government) to be paying 93.8 % of an employee's medical cost ($1372.04 of $1462.04). The taxpayers can no longer afford to subsidize the medical cost of part-time city employees. If Alderman and Mayoral pay is the issue -- address that issue. It isn't equitable that an Alderman with medical benefits makes $22,464.48 per year ($16,464.48 medical benefits plus $6000.00 salary) versus $6000.00 salary to the Alderman opting out of medical benefits. In addition, the city needs to get aggressive about keeping medical costs under control. This can be done by higher deductible plans, higher co-pays, and larger employee contributions. Sorry city employees, this is what is happening in private industry.
The Fighting Fox May 04, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Every time there is a new article about this it gets worse. A position on city council should be a service that carries certain amount of respect with it. It is an opportunity to serve the community, to make and influence decisions that affect the city for years to come, not just a place to collect public aid. The reason Yorkville offers good benefits and reasonable salaries to the people that work for us like, police, public works, administration, etc. is because we need to attract and retain the best employees the market has to offer. Unfortunately that same thinking does not apply to a part-time city council position because the best and brightest people for public office should be a coveted employee in their chosen field of employment. I don’t think that many would argue that Yorkville is going through some difficult times, from growing pains and failed administrative policies, to constant litigation and a depressed economy but if it takes health insurance to coax good candidates to run for city council then we need to raise salaries also because I don’t believe that we’ve seen an impressive field of candidates for office yet.
It all comes out in the wash May 04, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Fighting I appreciate reading your input and hope to meet you at one of the council meetings. I agree the salary should be looked at vs this. Is it fare to the community...I think no. Is it fair to other Alderman who Opt Out and dont't receive thousands of dollars in health care however provide the same support to their wards? I say no to this too. I hope everyone in the community stands firm on this with the new council members. How can you respect an Alderman who questions each and every expense line item and avoids this subject all together and would rather it remain under the carpet.
The Fighting Fox May 04, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Just to be clear, I was being sarcastic about the salary. The salary seems to be appropriate compared to our immediate neighbors. That is until the insurance gets added in and then it sky rockets out of the acceptable range. I just feel that even after inflating the value of the position with health benefits it’s disappointing that the only candidates that were recruited to run for office were the career council members that voted themselves the insurance in the first place and they’ve clung to these positions for a decade or more, and a new crop of politicians that have lived here for a less time than the others have been on the council. Also it’s definitely frustrating that some of the new city council that was very active in these comments when they were campaigning have gone missing now that there’s a real issue that they are going to be asked to remedy. This silence may speak volumes about their character. I hope not. We will just have to wait and see.
YorkVillain May 04, 2011 at 08:59 PM
I like what “It all comes out in the wash” said – “How can you respect an Alderman who questions each and every expense line item and avoids this subject all together and would rather it remain under the carpet.” It sounds like somebody knows more about this than the rest of us. It does seem like a strange position for an Alderman to take though. I don’t remember anyone on the city council running as a hypocrite.
Todd H May 05, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Actually I have made such a recommendation. Many of us have. And it's not all being selfless. The less people, the less chance we have as an organization. I do hope new leadership views objectively the situation. It's not like they are going to get rich. They need to think long term and their legacy.
Todd H May 05, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Absolutely!!! And The Patch helps keep us all informed!
Todd H May 05, 2011 at 01:48 AM
I believe Walmart may offer part time benefits. May. But bottom line these are not minimum wage positions that people take just to have some source of income. These are public servants that need to know we hold them responsible for doing the right thing.
Todd H May 05, 2011 at 01:52 AM
If our part time public leaders have no alternative to health insurance, I question their ability to lead the community.
It all comes out in the wash May 05, 2011 at 02:14 PM
We need to show up at the council meetings and let them know this is unacceptable. The cat is out of the bag. Let's see who is honest about this matter and admits having insurance we the people pay for. You want respect start by being honest. Mayor: Golinski Ward 1: Gilson and Colosimo Ward 2: Milschewski & to be named Ward 3: Funkhouser & Munns Ward 4: Spears & Teeling
It all comes out in the wash May 11, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Listen to the Administration Meeting dated 3/17/2011 at about the 9 minute mark. Then you will be able to hear a few Alderman who are receiving Health Insurance. They outed themselves. As I said the truth will come out dispite the lack of responses or no response when asked directly. Comment from one of the Alderman "so much for afordable health care" What are you kidden me.....Tax payers are paying this!
Robyn Sutcliff May 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM
I chaired that meeting. One of the members was definitely complaining about the price of health care. He and his family are getting a pretty good deal. I would like to say that I know that people need health care. It is necessary and expensive. The problem I am having with is that elected officials that have it aren't answering direct questions as to whether they chose or are choosing the tax payers to pay for theirs. With the state of the finances of the city, if an official has an opportunity to get it from another source, they should do that and save the city some money. Believe me, I understand how demanding the job of alderman is and it has few upsides. But we all have to take care of our families and if this opportunity is there. I don't begrudge someone for taking it. I was an alderman for 4 years and was on the City insurance for my family for about 1.5 years. The governing ordinance was repealed but I still hope our officials will practice ethics and be truthful to the constituents.
Robyn Sutcliff May 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM
State elected officials get an 80% pension for life with regular cost of living raises. They also get health insurance for life. I would bet the same is true for the Federal level. I would like to know how much that is costing the state and us the tax payers. This "perk" is for someone who only served one term as well as many terms. To be cutting senior and social services for the needy and poor and keeping themselves taken care of is disgusting.
Rex G May 12, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Those who go to school, try to get ahead, work hard, and DO NOT live off the rest get my sympathy but cutting social and senior services must be dealt with. I read the BN today and see a picture of a lady at a food pantry trying to feed her SEVEN kids - is just WRONG. How do you fix that? That costs a lot more down the road than any pension or healthcare for one person and this is just the tip of the iceberg. http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/photos/galleries/index.html?story=5296193 2nd photo says a lot.
It all comes out in the wash May 12, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Everyone needs Health Insurance however in all fairness to the folks of this City how can you cut city employees jobs, expenses that support the city, ask city employees to take furloughs, call yourself fiscial conservatives and then have no issue taking tax payers money to pay for your health insurance? Is this what you call conservative...conserve you own money and take ours? None of the current elected officials have answered this question.
YorkVillain May 12, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Rex thanks for pointing me to the Beacon today. http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/5314928-417/new-yorkville-councils-first-act-repeal-its-governing-ordinance.html What I saw was terrifying, “The new City Council and mayor hadn’t been in their chairs for 30 minutes this week before repealing the basic ordinance that governs their own behavior.” from there it said, “The ordinance contains such things as how meetings will be conducted and how aldermen should conduct business. Included in the ordinance are ethics considerations for what gifts aldermen can accept.” That must just have been stuff that got in their way. If that wasn’t bad enough I saw that “The board also appointed Spears as mayor pro tem.” The last time Spears was mayor pro tem was in 2007, specifically on March 13, http://www.yorkville.il.us/documents/CC3-13-07.pdf when she presided over the City Council meeting where they voted to give themselves health insurance and pensions.
Teddy B May 12, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Whoa and hold on there a minute. Not EVERYONE needs health insurance. Most people never used it like the "entitled ones" do today. More people go to the emergency/immediate care facilities with a runny nose today than anyone ever did in the past. You want the freebies? You pay for them. I'm personally sick of paying for the lazy people. Conservative individuals BUILT this country - not the bleeding liberals. The libs just make everyone believe they are ENTITLED to everything. You have seen fit to pick on the legal issue of healthcare for the city officials in Yorkville. Fine. You want it removed? Then keep working on them to change it. If it was done illegally then get Mr Weiss to take it away and get the money back. Let's not forget the previous mayor's ENTITLEMENTS that were forced on the taxpayer such as the wRECk Center, parks, whitewater chute, healthcare for everyone else, maintenance & upgrading of the baseball fields and soccer fields, giving away the Beecher Center to Senior Services, and I could go on and on. Just because you think these are needed - I DO NOT! So let's even put your pet projects on the table and cut everything. How about that? Then we will both be happy. I can take care of myself - by myself - thank you.
YorkVillain May 12, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Hey Teddy B, I remember somebody else around these parts bellyaching about the “wRECk Center” you should hook up with “Scratch on Patch”. Then you could complain to each other, it could be a love connection for you.
Teddy B May 12, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Sorry, not bellyaching just stating facts from my perspective. You must feel real bad now that there is a new mayor? And don't know who "Scratch on Patch" is but she must feel like I do? I think I read about the wRECk Center in the local paper. Didn't know it was copyrighted. Sorry for mis-using it. Didn't mean to.
It all comes out in the wash May 12, 2011 at 09:51 PM
ok not everyone, (figure of speach) and your right there are enough freeloaders who think they are entitled to many things at someone else's expense. Including our Alderman who accept insurance knowing the financial condition this city is in and while all of our city taxes went up 48%. Get this, the one who screams every time you say put some rules around the senior garbage NOW wants a park in her ward. check out the audio near the end. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Yorkville residences show up, speak up and let this council know. Talk about placing a rat in a cheese house.
Todd H May 13, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Local elected officials hiding behind FOIA to avoid disclosure of benefits cannot be tolerated. Especially when so many are being told to sacrifice their jobs, taxes and dignity. Yorkville expenditures are not a state secret. Even U.S. Congressional health perks are publicly known. And HIPPA I believe only covers the specific medical conditions and details - not that fact that this or that elected official is getting a benefit. No different than an expense for dinner or car reimbursement to Accounting. Anyone receiving or not receiving the benefit is abusing their responsibility for transparency and must be held accountable. I receive company subsidized health coverage for my family. Who next on the board will join me in stating something so simple?
Katie Bastyr May 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM
I have held part time positions that offer benefits but I had to pay 100% of the cost. Currently my husband and I pay 50% of our monthly premium. While I support giving elected officials access to health insurance I believe they should pay a much higher percentage of their premium (think 100%). That would keep compensation fair to those who opt out and also provide the insurance to those who need it.
It all comes out in the wash May 13, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I am talking about a request made at the end of the meeting this past Tuesday 5/10. Listen its towards the end. I'm talking about the one who objects the most, references an e-mail or a phone call she receives from someone about something will not allow the city to raise the senior garbage but will let the rest of us pay for it and then asks if we are going to fix this park? Enough is enough. Here are the numbers for 5/1/2011 to 4/30/2012. If I pay then individual names are not protected by HIPAA. Their personal medical information IS but when we PAY its different. HERE ARE THE NUMBERS: Go ask you COUNCIL Member if they are participating: HEALTH- 6 of the 11 elected officials opted in at a cost of $8481.56 per month (city states this could change) DENTAL-6 of the 11 elected officials opted in at a cost of $637.66 (city states this could change) VISION- 6 of the 11 elected officials opted in at a cost of $72.04 per month (city states this could change) TOTAL Cost to TAX payers $9191.26 per month * 12=$110,295.12 $30,000.00 more than last year
The Fighting Fox May 13, 2011 at 04:53 PM
These amounts, assuming they are correct, are escalating at a staggering rate. We will never really be able to know but, maybe the insurance was really the motivating factor for so many of these councilmen/women that fought so aggressively for their positions. I really wish I had known about this back in March before the election. It is a terrible disservice to the people of Yorkville that this was not discussed or debated during the election. This is a real issue of governmental excess going on in small community not just a debate about how we should spend our money like the Rec Center debate or the bike trail referendum that burned up these comment threads during that time.
It all comes out in the wash May 13, 2011 at 06:42 PM
These amounts came from the city as a result of the FOIA process. We all need to show up at the council meetings and let them know this is unacceptable. No Council should have the right to self impose a benefit for themselves and then ignore this financial issues this city is having. Then not to step up and do the right thing. See if you can get anyone of them to tell you if they are participating. I do not call this being honest with the people of this city. If they don't want to do the right thing and get this on a ballot in order for the people to vote then there is the process of a Petition. We do not have to accept this as they all raised their right h and took an oath of office. We need to hold them accountable to this oath and the people of this city.
Tom Joad May 13, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Thanks for keeping us informed, and keep up the good work. If there are 6 people in the new group at city hall that opted in, after all this discussion that’s the definition of arrogant.
Todd Milliron May 13, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Here is the FOIA form for City of Yorkville = http://www.yorkville.il.us/documents/FOIAFormforWebsite_000.pdf The June 2011 City of Yorkville Employee Benefits Bill for Health, Dental, Vision and Life Ins. is received usually by the 20th to 25th of (May) the preceding Month. These are all bills the taxpayer pays and is something that one can ask for by filing an FOIA request. I would ask for April, May and June so you can review the turnover and new adds. One only needs to fill out the above form and make the FOIA request for these monthly bills, then you may be able recognize 6 of the 11 names for these elected official's group benefit bills you are paying for. Please also note that the City switched to an HRA (Health Reimbursement Account) arrangement last year that provides $2000 of "First Dollar" (No Deductible and Taxpayer funded) coverage, at the minimum that could potentially be another $12,000 to $24,000 of additional expense depending on utilization by the 6 elected Yorkville official(s) / family. The HRA has not been calculated in the prior post's estimate of cost to taxpayer. When making that FOIA request also ask for the Outline of Benefits for Health, Life, Vision and Dental along with HRA written arrangement that dove tails with the City's Employee Benefits Insurance program. Another item to ask for would be a copy of the master group agreements for each line of coverage & check eligible employee class for who is entitled to group benefits.
It all comes out in the wash May 13, 2011 at 10:08 PM
I've been waiting to hear from you Todd. Thanks for all the information. I've spent hours reading lots of minutes and listening to many of the Audios of the meetings. The 3 hour Feb Admin meeting almost did me in. Thanks again

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