‘Shared sacrifice’ still on ice as Oak Lawn trustees mull their health benefits

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Mike CarberryMike CarberryOak Lawn trustees took a pass Tuesday night on a discussion of eliminating health care benefits for elected officials, deciding instead that additional information is needed first.

  “There’s going to be a lot of discussion that’s going to take place between all of us,” Trustee Mike Carberry said. “It’s an overall compensation package. Health benefits are a major cost. We need to get everybody’s input. We’re going to try to come up with something that makes sense. There’s not a big rush on this.”

Part of that discussion will focus on a proposal to allow trustees to purchase health insurance from the village if it is no longer offered as a benefit.

“That wasn’t really discussed at the last meeting and I think that’s important to talk about before we start drafting an ordinance,” Village Attorney Patrick Connelly said. “I would like to hear some direction on what you guys [on the board] think.”

Connelly added that he is exploring whether or not the repeal of health care benefits would take place after a board member’s term. He said there was “some gray area” in the law that might allow benefits to be repealed at the end of the fiscal year instead.

The health insurance issue was first raised at the Oct. 22 board meeting by Trustee Tim Desmond, who called for “shared sacrifice” at a time when the board is considering several significant cuts to balance the village budget.

Several trustees and Mayor Sandra Bury currently take full or partial health benefits.

Trustee Alex Olejniczak said he does not plan to participate in the village health insurance plan in the next fiscal year. Bury does not take her salary as liquor commissioner, which is comparable to the cost of her insurance, she said.

Trustee Terry Vorderer, who does not receive the insurance, said trustees deserve compensation but proving health insurance is too costly.

“Everybody is entitled to some compensation for their work. I don’t think the people of Oak Lawn resent paying their trustees. I also learned that if a trustee takes this healthcare, he’s compensated at three or four times the value of the trustee that does not take this healthcare, and that’s not right either. I think we need a fair compensation system. You want to buy the healthcare, it costs the village nothing.”

In other business at a relatively harmonious 90-minute meeting, trustees:

  • Tabled action on a resolution that would place on the March ballot a referendum asking voters if they supported a three-consecutive-term limit for mayor and trustees. Carberry, who asked that the matter be tabled, said board has until December to approve the resolution, which is needed to place the question on the March ballot.
  • Discussed the possibility of increasing the number of red light enforcement cameras throughout the village as well as a program used to collect unpaid red light fines. Trustee Bob Streit said he’d like to see evidence that red light cameras improve public safety and don’t exist solely as revenue generators.
  • Agreed to cancel the Dec. 24 village board meeting, making the Dec. 10 meeting the last one for 2013.
  • Heard from Bury, who announced that her new blog,, went live on Wednesday.