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updated: 7/26/2011 6:31 PM

DuPage committee pushes plan to save up to $28 million in 20 years

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DuPage County officials say a proposal to modify employee benefits could save the county as much as $28 million over the next two decades.

If adopted by the DuPage County Board, the plan would reduce the number of sick, personal or vacation days employees can build up every year as well as make other minor changes to the policies.

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"It provides the long-term structure for the county that is sustainable and ... in line with other public and private sector entities," board member Jeff Redick said Tuesday.

The county's finance department estimates that the changes to sick day accrual would net $8 million to $12 million savings during the next 20 years. Additionally, the vacation and personal day changes could save the county as much as $800,000 per year.

"I am sure there are employees who weren't glad to hear this coming but ... we are facing some very dire financial situations in the long run," said Redick, who is chairman of the county's ad hoc committee on human resources.

Redick said he hopes to tweak the proposal and make a recommendation in the coming months, with an aim at implementing the measures for the next fiscal year.

Under the proposal, employees would receive 10 vacation days per year during their first four years, provided that they work at least 40 hours per week. That is a significant change to the current policy, which adds an additional day every year after starting with 12 days in the first year.

Additionally, sick time accrual would be limited to six days per year for the first six years of service. Savings from the programs are expected to increase from year-to-year.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said the entire endeavor, which included employee input, shows the county has its sights on reining in its budget.

"It's meaningful that we are taking control of our own shop," Cronin said. "I think this serves as an example, or a model, to other units of government. We are taking on some tough issues and have engaged employees in the whole discussion. We recognize it's not easy. People are nervous. People are emotional. But we all recognize that we have to make changes."

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