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updated: 10/27/2011 3:55 PM

Will Kane Co. Board change health insurance perk?

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Kane County officials are negotiating with several unions on health insurance changes that may save the county thousands of dollars. Yet board members have yet to discuss adjusting the insurance benefits most of them receive despite their part-time employee status.

Fourteen of the 26 board members take the optional health insurance perk of the job. A total of 23 board members take the optional pension benefit along with the $24,000 annual salary. Thirteen board members take both perks.

Only three board members reject both the pension and the health insurance.

Board member Mark Davoust is one of the leading voices calling for health insurance changes with the county's unions. Asked this week if the board will ever discuss health insurance for board members, he said the perk does merit discussion in the context of the 2012 budget.

Davoust takes both the health insurance perk and the pension benefit available to him. He said health insurance is a benefit county board members should continue to have. Davoust said he takes full use of the insurance, having already hit his deductible, and is glad to have the perk.

"It would be foolish to not accept it," Davoust said. "This is the most time-consuming part-time job I've ever had. It is a benefit that is commensurate with the work that goes into this job."

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said she would support a review of how appropriate it is for board members to receive health insurance. Board members should not receive a benefit that isn't available to any other part-time employee, she said. Right now, other part-time employees are eligible for insurance, she said, but they must cover the vast majority of the cost themselves.

"I think what needs to happen is the county should have a consistent policy on this," McConnaughay said. "Board members should have the same rules and benefits available to them that every other part-time employee has."

McConnaughay's position is full time.

There is little time for the board to discuss any change to their health insurance plan for next year. The county's new fiscal year begins in December.

Outside of public meetings, several board members also have stated a willingness to forego the pension benefit if the majority of their colleagues agree. That discussion also has never materialized for public debate or a vote.

Finance Committee Chairman Jim Mitchell said that will change on Monday. The committee will have a special meeting to discuss changes in the 2012 budget. Mitchell said health insurance and pension benefits for board members will be on the agenda.

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