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Superintendent: Coordinator didn’t pay for East Aurora insurance

Jerome Roberts

Jerome Roberts

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Updated: December 6, 2012 6:13AM

AURORA — For more than five years, the East Aurora School District’s health insurance coordinator did not charge herself for health insurance, district officials said Friday.

Penny Halvax, the district’s health insurance coordinator, did not deduct insurance premiums from her paychecks since 2007, costing the district about $26,000 in unpaid premiums, Superintendent Jerome Roberts said.

East Aurora School Board President Annette Johnson said the School District’s attorneys have forwarded the financial information related to Halvax to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office. According to Kane County court records, no charges have been filed against Halvax.

“She should have known to take her own payroll deduction. She was the benefits coordinator,” Johnson said.

Halvax, former secretary to the assistant superintendent for finance, was fired in late September after discrepancies in record-keeping for the district’s insurance were discovered. Reached Saturday, Halvax declined to comment.

Missing premium

Johnson said the district’s former insurance company, Bannockburn-based GCG Financial, informed the district in September that there were issues working with Halvax and former Finance Director Jay Augustine on the district’s insurance plan.

Augustine immediately retired in September during an investigation into the district’s financial issues.

At that time, Johnson said she discovered that employee insurance premiums did not match insurance bills the district was paying.

Roberts said 49 out of the 2,752 employees or employee family members listed on the district’s health insurance plan were not paying insurance premiums. About 19 out of 3,200 employees or employee family members listed on the district’s dental plan also were not paying toward dental insurance.

Johnson said 29 of those who were not paying for insurance were no longer district employees but were left on the plan. For the most part, she said, they were not making claims against the district’s insurance because they had moved on to other jobs, but it did cost the district about a $40 administrative fee per user.

Three or four former employees were left on the district’s insurance plan and were making claims against the district’s insurance after they were no longer employed at the district, she said.

“Through our insurance, we can potentially recover that,” Johnson said. “This is part of this continual audit that we’re still in.”

New insurance plan

Johnson said that the employees who were not paying premiums appeared to be random, and were a result of “general accounting sloppiness” that likely occurred as the district switched insurance providers in January 2012.

“They didn’t fall in any one group. It had no real logic to it,” Johnson said.

The district is notifying those who still are district employees that they will be responsible for setting up a payment plan to reimburse the district for those missed premium payments.

Employees did not appear to be intentionally abusing the situation, and some weren’t even aware the premiums were not being deducted from their paychecks, Johnson said.

Johnson said the district’s former plan was “old fashioned.”

“They call it a ‘Cadillac plan.’ In this day and age, the type of plan that we were offering, no companies offer that anymore, or very few,” Roberts said.

Under the new insurance plan with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the district is saving $600,000, Johnson said.

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