Oak Lawn’s Board of Trustees will vote tonight on a proposal to eliminate the subsidy for health insurance for elected officials.
The ordinance before the board states, in part:
That any official elected to the office of Village President or Village Trustee at the next municipal election in 2017 and subsequent municipal elections wishing to purchase health insurance benefits through the Village’s health insurance provider shall pay one hundred percent (100%) of the premium for their health insurance benefits.
While the ordinance does not technically “eliminate” the benefit, it moves the cost to the elected official. The only two individuals who are receiving health insurance through the village, according to the last document reviewed by the Oak Lawn Leaf, are Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustee Tim Desmond.
Since dropping the insurance constitutes a change in compensation, the village may not be able to force Desmond to give up his insurance premium payment because his term ends in 2019. No official’s compensation may be increased or decreased during their term of office.
Desmond voted against the proposal at the Village’s Legislative, Ethics and License Committee stating that the committee should review the proposal further. Trustee Alex Olejniczak, who once received insurance from the village, seemed confused by the effect of the ordinance. He said that since the insurance is a defined benefit, the recommendation would have to go to the full board and then to a referendum. However, the ordinance before the full board will become law if supported by a majority of the board tonight.
At the Legislative, Ethics and License Committee, Olejniczak also said that the committee should look at what other surrounding suburbs are compensating their elected officials.
In a survey in 2013 of neighboring communities, the Oak Lawn Leaf found that Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park, and Alsip not only provide health insurance and pensions for their elected officials, they also pay higher salaries to these officials despite the fact that Oak Lawn is by far the largest of the suburbs.
Burbank pays Trustees $21,500 a year in salary as well as providing health insurance and pension benefits.
Evergreen Park Trustees earn $13,748 for their service and both health insurance benefits and pension benefits are available.
Alsip pays its Trustees $13,368 and also provides both health insurance benefits and pension benefits. However, the previous board voted to eliminate health insurance benefits and after the terms of the board members elected prior to April 2013, the village will no longer offer health insurance to trustees and has reduced the salary to $10,000. The trustees that proposed the change were defeated.
Chicago Ridge pays its Trustees $12,000 a year and provides both health insurance and pension benefits.
Although they are not on the committee, Mayor Sandra Bury, Trustee Terry Vorderer and Trustee William Stalker were in attendance. None of the officials spoke about the proposal.