McHenry Co. (ECWd) –
While reviewing Algonquin Township records, we identified some troubling expenditures as it relates to insurance benefits ranging from coverage to officials no longer with the Township to family members of elected officials appearing as dependents getting coverage on the Blue Cross Blue Sheild insurance that the Township pays for. Yes, the linked document reflects Bob Miller, former Algonquin Township Road District Highway Commissioner, recieved Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance beneifts clear into 2018. We have confirmed the Township paid that expense, even though Miller lost the election and was no longer in office. Additional requests for records have been submitted to see if Miller is reimbursing the Township for that expense. If so, there will be plenty more to expose.
Algonquin Township established the compensation of elected officeholders in November of 2016. Three positions, Supervisor, Assessor, and Highway Commissioner were authorized to receive Illinois Municipal Retirement, health, life, dental & vision insurance. Note that the resolution does not include benefits for family members nor does it include Accidental Death insurance.
I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking some basic documents in hopes we could pin down what is happening. In standard fashion, the response from the Township, through their attorney, was revealing.
- A copy of all health insurance payments made on behalf of Darlene Lutzow in the last 3 years.
- A copy of all reimbursement payments to the Township for health insurance coverage for Darlene Lutzow.
- A copy of all health insurance payments made on behalf of Charles Lutzow, whether direct payments or through payroll deductions since becoming Supervisor.
- A copy of all health insurance payments made on behalf of Darlene Lutzow, whether direct payments or through payroll deductions since Chuck Lutzow became Supervisor.
- A copy of the health insurance policy provided to Charles Lutzow.
- A copy of all resolutions authorizing health insurance coverage any family members of Charles Lutzow
The response says a lot.
1. Documents responsive to your request are enclosed.
2. There are no documents responsive to your request.
3. Documents responsive to your request are enclosed.
4. Documents responsive to your request are enclosed.
5. The Resolution responsive to your request is enclosed.
6. The Resolution responsive to your request is enclosed.
The Township’s answer to Items 1 and 2, if true, confirm the Township has made payments for health insurance for Darlene Lutzow and there have been no reimbursements to the Township for that insurance coverage. We have found no provision in our laws which permit elected officials to have the taxpayers pay for their spouse’s health insurance. What typically happens is they add them to the coverage at their own expense. Not the case in Algonquin Township. Additional requests are being submitted as to the dependent coverages provided to the Assessor. As it relates to the Highway Commissioner, he is not receiving any of the insurance benefits.
The documents provided to our request does not show Darlene Lutzow’s name anywhere. That leaves us with the position the payments made, actually on behalf of Charles Lutzow, according to the document, include coverage for his wife who is not an elected official of the Township. While she currently performs the ministerial functions of her husband’s position as Supervisor, the board established that she would do so without compensation. We point that out to address those who will attempt to justify the taxpayers paying for her health insurance.
More importantly, the coverage for the Supervisor’s wife and Assessor’s family members date back to August of 2017. There is no provision in the Compensation setting resolution for an elected official to have the taxpayer fund the cost of their dependents by being added to their insurance policy.
As far as the response for item 1 and item 3, the Township claims they provided the record but the only record provided names Charles Lutzow, not his wife.
The response to item 4, once again, only shows the name, Charles Lutzow. The response combined with the record confirms they include coverage for Lutzow’s wife.
As can be seen in this document, the coverage is the GOLD PPO plan. Expect elected officials to get nothing less when they are the ones selecting it.
Item number 6 was very specific. I wanted the resolution that authorized insurance coverage for family members of Charles Lutzow, not the compensation setting resolution provided. For the record, there is no resolution authorizing insurance for family members of elected officials in Algonquin Township nor has the board ever elected (voted) to allow such inclusion. Stay tuned for another article on that key point.
Even though such coverage was never approved in any compensation setting resolution, both the Supervisor and the Assessor have provided those benefits to their dependents and it is the taxpayer paying for those benefits.
Additional records reflect Supervisor Lutzow and Assessor Alexander are also receiving an Accidental Death insurance benefit of $50,000, a benefit that is not part of the authorized compensation established in the resolution. Such a benefit appears to be a clear violation of the law as it is a form of compensation never authorized in the compensation setting resolution.
In an attempt to get answers to important points, neither the Supervisor or trustees who were included in our request have answered any of the three simple questions below.
- The compensation setting resolution for your position (Supervisor) does not include health coverage for your wife so can you explain why your wife is listed as a recipient of such coverage under your subscriber number?
- Your payroll does not appear to reflect a deduction for your wife’s coverage for insurance. Who is paying for her insurance?
- Can you provide any documentation that authorized your wife to have access to Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance through the township?
Email responses to our inquiry from trustee Rachael Lawrence were nothing more than word games and a clear refusal to answer a single question. A position contrary to her claims of transparency. Those communications will be a dedicated article in the future.
Based on the records obtained to date, Algonquin Township Board of Trustees have been approving taxpayer funds for the payment of health insurance coverage for a former elected official, health insurance for dependents of elected officials, and A.D.D. insurance benefits never authorized as required by law.
The Township’s failure to provide additional key records related to this matter may lead to yet another Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Check back for follow-up articles on this matter that will continue to expose the actions of the Algonquin Township officials.