The village of North Riverside continues to try to dig itself out of a financial hole created decades ago when leaders apparently felt sales tax revenues would flow freely forever, and used the money to take care of village employees by granting them health insurance benefits, which the rest of society can only dream about, for the rest of their lives.
The lifetime insurance perk was phased out for new employees over a period of years after 2010, and now new employees won’t be able to take advantage of the gold-plated, minimum-cost insurance offered to village employees in the past.
While the village will continue to bear the burden of the costs of both the top-tier insurance plan and the lifetime insurance perk for another couple of decades, this clearly was the right call to make by the village.
The challenge now will be convincing people still on the low-cost, high-benefit plan to switch to one of the new plans — which look to be pretty decent plans, all things considered. But it’s going to be a tough sell.
Who wouldn’t want a plan that came with $100 deductibles, a $500 total out-of-pocket ceiling annually and free mail-order prescription coverage? Now, those are perks you don’t give up lightly.
The mayor, who takes advantage of village-provided health insurance coverage, has said he’ll be the first to make the switch to provide the example. That’s something to applaud, though we also wonder whether such coverage ought to be made available to elected officials of small towns. That’s a rare perk indeed.
Still, if it paves the way to lowering health insurance costs for the village of North Riverside, we’re all for that. The village needs to be able to capture as much money as it can to fund other critical operations of the village.
Slowly, but surely, the village’s policies like this are getting in line with the world outside the old North Riverside bubble. That’s good news for taxpayers.