County retirees file lawsuit

County retirees file lawsuit

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

On Jan. 29, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department retiree John Germano filed a lawsuit, along with 40 other retirees, protesting the substantial increases for insurance.

The lawsuit is against county administrator Steve Chapman, the county and Sheriff Richard Meyers.

Germano noted the cost of the insurance is more than many people’s entire pensions.

“We have possibly come across a law that says that the defendants, which is Winnebago County, must provide health coverage to us,” Germano stated.

He said he does not know why the county raised the rates. “That’s something we never checked into,” he said.

Retirees received a letter last March indicating the rates would rise effective April 1, 2000. Germano’s insurance was $257.07 in 1999.

“In April of last year, it went to $486. They took the people 65 and over and removed them from the county insurance entirely and switched us over to Benchmark.”

On Feb. 1, 2001, premiums began to cost $193 for those 65 and over with dental insurance and $169 without dental coverage.

Meyers said he understands the action and said the retirees have been congenial toward him. He added, they have called to tell him they filed the lawsuit partly against him simply because he is the head of the sheriff’s department. Meyers noted he worked with many of the retirees for years.

Chapman refused to comment on the lawsuit.

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