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posted: 9/24/2012 1:43 PM

Des Plaines resident urges officials to drop city-funded insurance

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Des Plaines 4th Ward resident Wayne Woodworth has an idea for saving the city more than $100,000 in expenses in 2013 -- eliminate health insurance benefits for the mayor, city clerk and aldermen.

Woodworth spoke at this week's city council meeting after perusing the city's website for employee salary and benefits information that is required to be posted per new state law.

After reviewing the data and talking with Des Plaines' human resources department, Woodworth said he researched what benefits neighboring towns -- Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Elk Grove, Park Ridge and Glenview -- offered their aldermen/trustees.

When comparing salaries of aldermen/trustees in those towns, Des Plaines' $3,000 yearly salary for aldermen is on the higher end, though not as high as Elk Grove Village, which pays trustees $6,000 yearly.

However, Des Plaines gives each alderman an $1,800 allowance for other expenses, which none of the other communities provide, according to Woodworth.

The aldermen's salary and stipend are specified in the city code, Finance Director Dorothy Wisniewski said.

Woodworth said none of the other towns pay for the health insurance coverage of their aldermen or trustees, whereas six Des Plaines aldermen, the mayor and city clerk get health and dental insurance coverage through the city by paying between 5 percent and 10 percent toward the cost of premiums.

That cost Des Plaines roughly $104,000 as of Dec. 31, 2011, according to city records.

"Go to your employers and request to be put back on your employers' health plan," Woodworth said. "Once on your employers' plan, go to our payroll office and ask to be removed. Some policy rules will need changing so that, in the future, this will not be a problem for any new aldermen coming on. It's a choice you have, but you do not need to elect the coverage."

Woodworth said he hopes all eight city aldermen, the clerk and mayor will cease to be covered by the city's health and dental insurance plans or pay 100 percent toward the cost of coverage, similar to what Elk Grove Village allows its elected officials.

"While none of you were here when this benefit began a good number of years ago, and should not have to shoulder the blame for it ... the real crime will occur, if on Jan. 1. 2013, any of you are still on our city's health plan," Woodworth said. "You don't become an alderman, city clerk or mayor to get health insurance coverage, and if you did, you're not the type of elected official I want serving our city."

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