Oak Lawn’s part-time officials are taking full-time insurance benefits pushing the cost of just health insurance benefits for all elected officials to $45,486.22 a year.
The two biggest offenders are Trustee Alex Olejniczak, the longest serving Trustee on the board, and Mayor Sandra Bury. Olejniczak received $19,781.90 in health insurance benefits for his part-time job as Village Trustee for 2018. He has served on the board since 2005 and has campaigned against public officials in part-time positions receiving full time benefits.
Bury, who also campaigned against part-time officials receiving benefits, helped herself to $6,912.72 in health insurance benefits for her part-time job as Mayor in 2018, after publicly complaining about part-time officials taking full time benefits. At the August 8, 2017 Village Board meeting, Bury stated that part-time officials should not reap the benefits of full time employees until the village gets its financial house in order.
At the same time, she was apparently receiving almost $7,000 in health insurance benefits that are usually only provided to full-time employees in private industry or even at the municipal level. Other part-time employees, with the exception of elected officials, do not receive a pension or health insurance benefits.
At the same meeting in 2017, all of the Trustees and Mayor had to certify to IMRF how many hours that they each work in a week. Only former Trustee Robert Streit said he worked more than 20 hours on village business. All the other part-time officials signed a document under oath that they don’t work even as little as 20 hours a week as elected officials. Nonetheless, current Trustees Bud Stalker, Thomas Phelan, Tim Desmond, and Terry Vorderer joined Bury and Olejniczak to take the health insurance benefits to some degree. Trustee Paul Mallo was not elected until 2019.
Vorderer already receives a pension from the Village of Oak Lawn and both he and Stalker are old enough to receive Medicare. Stalker’s benefit amount was only $162.72, which may be for dental or vision coverage, while Vorderer’s benefit was $1,052.88.
The Mayor and Village Board could voluntarily remove themselves from this full time benefit. However, despite the Mayor’s and Trustees’ public promises against part-time officials receiving full time benefits, they continue to receive health benefits only available to full time village employees. In 2013, the entire Township Board was defeated based on the issue of part-time officials enjoying full-time benefits such as pensions and insurance benefits.
Ironically, Mayor Sandra Bury has used the financial report to attack firefighters and paramedics as being greedy for earning overtime pay based on their union contract and the failure of the village to hire more paramedics.