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Grundy County Board agrees to terms with highway workers

Deal requires employees to make larger health contributions

MORRIS – Grundy County Highway Department workers have a new five-year contract.

The Grundy County Board approved a new agreement Tuesday night with the highway department teamsters union, which will give the department’s six employees 2 percent raises each year of the deal.

The agreement is retroactive to Dec. 1, 2016 and it will run through Nov. 30, 2021.

The agreement will require workers to increase their health care contributions, due to the current health care insurance market, Grundy County Board Chairman Chris Balkema said. Employee contributions will increase 2 percent each year from 2017 to 2021.

An employee only plan will go from a 7.5 percent contribution in 2017 to 15.5 percent in 2021. An employee plus one plan will go from 10.5 percent in 2017 to 18.5 percent in 2021. A family plan will go from 12.5 percent in 2017 to 20.5 percent in 2021.

“It’s a win-win contract,” Balkema said Wednesday. “It’s added stability for the next five years for both the employees and the county.”

Balkema described the contract as competitive with peer counties in Illinois. Negotiations between the county and the union went on for seven months, he said.

In other financial news, the county has reduced its $1.5 million deficit of two years ago to $300,000 currently, Balkema said.

“Hopefully, by the end of the year, we can get it to zero,” he said. “There are no layoffs on the way. The deficit is being closed through efficiency. We hope to walk into 2018 with a balanced budget that can put the residents and employees at ease.”

The board also discussed its Vision 2020 plan, which asks department heads to set goals and an outlook for their respective departments in 2020.

The board is hoping department heads can partner on certain things to make operations and finance more efficient.

Balkema said some goals he’s excited about are: the push to eliminate as much paper as possible and move to all electronic records; centralization of purchasing so the county can get better deals; and assessment of 27,000 parcels of land every four years.

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