QUINCY -- Multiple members of the Quincy City Council are backing a proposal that would eliminate the option of health insurance coverage for new aldermen who are elected to the council following the 2021 election.
The proposal would allow the aldermen who currently receive health insurance through their position on the council to continue to receive those benefits.
"All we are wanting to do is grandfather them in so that the option of health insurance is available to them, but we want to make it so that the health insurance option will not be available to the aldermen who are elected into the future," said aldermen Richie Reis, who is the lead sponsor on the ordinance. Reis, a Democrat, from the 6th Ward.
"Eventually, the health insurance option will be phased out through the attrition on the City Council," Reis said.
Comptroller Sheri Ray said the city budgeted $115,000 for health insurance for the aldermen who have insurance through the city.
"If all 14 aldermen were on there, I could see that number escalating very quickly," Reis said. "As everyone knows with health care, that number could increase a lot over the next five or 10 years."
Reis' proposal, which is co-sponsored by aldermen Jeff Bergman, is slated to be voted on at next week's meeting. Bergman, a Republican, from the 2nd Ward.
He described the elimination of health insurance as "the right message for us to send to the taxpayers."
Alderman Eric Entrup agreed.
"I think we are always looking at ways to cut expenses on the City Council," said Entrup, a Republican, from the 1st Ward. He said he was in favor of the proposal.
On Monday, other members of the City Council pledged their support for the proposed ordinance.
Those expressing their support were aldermen Jack Holtschlag and Benjamin Uzelac, who are both Democrats from the 7th Ward, and Jason Finney, a Republican, from the 3rd Ward.
"I think in the past aldermen have been offered certain perks for their positions on the City Council," said Uzelac, who is beginning his first term on the council and said he would have proposed his own ordinance but upon joining the council learned that Reis was already working on one. "There are 14 of us on the council, two per ward, and I do not think that any of us would say this constitutes a full time position."
Supporters of the proposed ordinance say the money could be better utilized elsewhere in the city's budget, including paying for additional road and sewer projects and funding the city's police and fire pension programs.
"I think any extra money we get from eliminating this should be used to address a citywide problem like the pension fund," Entrup said.