By Steve Lord
June 20, 2012 4:58PM
Updated: June 20, 2012 8:26PM
YORKVILLE — The Kendall County Board is putting a different spin on trimming the fat from county government.
Board members voted 7-2 to help pay the bill for county employees who want to join the Weight Watchers at Work program. The board will pay a quarter of the cost for interested employees for up to three months.
The suggestion came from the county’s Employee Wellness Group. Valerie McCain, who works in administrative services for the county and is a member of the group, said her former employer offered the program.
The idea is that while the county spends some money upfront, it will save on insurance premium costs in the long run.
“It does work,” said McCain. “You do it either at lunch or right after work. There’s some accountability because it’s people you work with.”
The County Board voted to pay a quarter of the cost, which will come to about $10.74 a month, for each interested employee, for three months. The employees would pay approximately $30 a month, and after three months, would take over the payments completely.
The Weight Watchers at Work program runs for 17 weeks, with the option of taking it again for another 17 weeks.
McCain said the board’s contribution will “kick start” the program for some. She added it is voluntary.
Board member Jesse Hafenrichter, who brought the proposal to the board, admitted she was “on the fence about using taxpayers money for a program like this.”
“But if we can save money on health insurance, it would be worth it,” she said.
Board member Jeff Wehrli said he was not just thinking about saving on health insurance, but also cutting down on the number of sick days employees take.
“It’s an attempt to get someone, if they choose to, a healthier lifestyle,” he said.
Board members Dan Koukol and Robert Davidson voted against the county’s participation in the program. Davidson likened it to mandatory seat belt laws.
“I didn’t see any great reduction in insurance cost because we put a seat belt on,” he said. “I don’t think this is where tax money needs to go to.”
The board’s Administration Committee looked at several companies and chose Weight Watchers. McCain said about 30 employees had shown interest in the program even before it was approved by the board.