Without any debate, City Council passed a resolution authorizing the City Manager to expand the City’s benefits program to include health related benefits, including insurance, to same sex domestic partners. According to material provided to the Council by City staff, Evanston now joins Chicago, Wilmette, Des Plaines, and Carpenterville in offering benefits to same sex domestic partners.

Registration of domestic partnership will require an employee to complete an “Affidavit of Domestic Partnership” that proves at least 3 of 5 qualifications: cohabitation; joint ownership of a vehicle; joint ownership of a checking account or credit account; full beneficiary status on the employee’s life insurance or retirement benefits; and shared household expenses such as utility bills. Employees are then required to notify the City within 30 days if domestic partnership status changes.

Employees can enroll domestic partners during open enrollment, October 26 through November 6. Until open enrollment has concluded and all affidavits have been filed, the cost of this measure is not known.

According to the City’s new Domestic Partner Benefits Policy, any tax consequences of extending benefits to same sex partners will be the sole responsibility of the employee. The IRS, in compliance with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, treats domestic partner benefits as additional, and taxable, compensation (with certain exceptions). The City will “withhold the taxes on the value of those benefits from the employee’s paycheck” according to the Policy.