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Breaking News

Joliet balks at Rialto Square Theatre bailout while Green stays on the job

Late payroll taxes top $120,000

JOLIET – Rialto Square Theatre General Manager Randy Green’s departure appears to be a matter of time as theater and city officials investigate about four months of unpaid payroll taxes totalling more than $120,000.

Other unpaid Rialto bills could amount to nearly $400,000.

The Rialto board on Monday tabled for one week a decision on a separation agreement with Green but did vote against an early renewal of his contract, which expires at the end of the year.

Rialto attorney David Silverman asked for another week to negotiate an agreement with Green and his lawyer. He said negotiations had reached “an impasse.”

City officials, meanwhile, said they will not consider a Rialto request to advance the money needed to pay the federal portion of payroll taxes while Green remains on the job. And they may wait longer until finding out more about the theater’s financial condition and who knew that payroll taxes were not being paid.

Since November, the Rialto has only paid one week of payroll taxes, according to city officials.

Rialto board Chairman Dan Vera made a brief statement at that board’s meeting that he learned of the unpaid payroll taxes in mid-February. Vera later told reporters that he learned the taxes had not been paid from the Rialto’s finance manager after Green had told him the theater was meeting its tax obligations.

City officials, however, said Vera knew of the problem as early as mid-December, although Green may have misled him as to whether the taxes were paid.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said the city ultimately might have to spend more than its annual $600,000 contribution to the Rialto to keep the theater afloat. But first, he said, the city needs to investigate theater operations.

“Before we commit any more money, we need to know what we’re looking at,” O’Dekirk said at a City Council meeting that included a review of the Rialto financial situation.

The council meeting followed the Rialto board’s meeting, which O’Dekirk attended.

City officials said the Rialto also has $395,000 in unpaid vendor bills, although it’s unclear how much of that is money put up to finance shows that will bring in revenue to cover those costs.

O’Dekirk and some council members said they want the city’s new inspector general to investigate the Rialto situation. The city’s finance director already has begun examining the Rialto’s financial records.

The city has given the Rialto a $10,000 advance on its second-quarter payment to take care of the state portion of unpaid payroll taxes. The city’s annual contribution to the Rialto comes in four quarterly payments, and Vera has asked the city for an advance on the next payment, which normally would come in April.

But council members agreed that the city should not provide the theater with any more money until finances are clarified.

“As much as I support the Rialto theater, I cannot support a bailout at this time,” Councilwoman Jan Quillman said.

Some council members emphasized that it’s not clear at all whether an advance on the April payment would stabilize the Rialto.

“We’re talking about taking April, May and June money, and giving it to them in March to pay November, December and January bills,” Councilman Larry Hug said.

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