JOLIET – Joliet is on the hook for roughly $200,000 on two upcoming shows at the Rialto Square Theatre, while the City Council on Monday voted to advance the theater $140,000, the next installment of the city’s annual funding.
In the next week, city and Rialto officials are to work on an intergovernmental agreement that could allow Inspector General Chris Regis to do an investigation of the theater.
The financial condition of the theater remains unclear.
But City Manager Jim Hock at a special City Council meeting Monday said his letter last week in which the city guaranteed payments for upcoming acts will involve money.
Hock issued the letters, saying they guaranteed that performers will get paid by the city if the Rialto cannot pay. Now it appears the Rialto does not have the money.
Joliet will pay up to $49,000 for a Pauly Shore show on April 7, Hock said. An additional $153,000 will be paid for Jeff Foxworthy, when he performs April 8.
The payments mark a new level of support from the city, which is taking responsibility to ensure that acts get paid. The city typically provides $600,000 a year, which comes in quarterly payments, in general support to the Rialto.
But Hock and others Monday said city backing of Rialto shows was essential to keep the theater open.
“It instills a level of confidence in the public in buying tickets at the Rialto,” Hock said.
Hock also said the theater would face new challenges in booking acts if performers were not paid.
“If they walk out the door and they’re not paid, they’re never coming back,” he said. “They’re never doing business with the Rialto in the future.”
The city had been scheduled to make its second quarterly contribution of $150,000 to the Rialto on Friday. But the city already has advanced $10,000 of that to pay a portion of the $123,000 in late payroll taxes that have been piling up since November. The remainder of that installment will be released to pay the remaining payroll taxes.
Rialto General Manager Randy Green has been put on paid leave since the payroll tax issue arose. The City Council previously balked at the prospect of paying any more money to the Rialto until Green was out and the city’s inspector general was let in.
Council members on Monday agreed to send money while giving notice that they still want the two conditions met.
The council voted, 6-1, to release the money. Larry Hug voted no. Jim McFarland was absent.
Rialto board attorney David Silverman said the Rialto has not offered to pay any money to Green to encourage an early exit from his contract, which expires in December.
“We’ve tried to come up with a strategy to ask him to resign without spending any funds,” Silverman told the council. “So far we have not been able to do that.”