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Local News

Joliet may expand inspector general powers for Rialto Square Theatre investigation

Joliet Inspector General Chris Regis addresses the media and public in March during a news conference at City Hall in Joliet. The Joliet City Council is scheduled Monday to discuss and possibly vote on expanded powers for Regis, who was hired by the city in January.
Joliet Inspector General Chris Regis addresses the media and public in March during a news conference at City Hall in Joliet. The Joliet City Council is scheduled Monday to discuss and possibly vote on expanded powers for Regis, who was hired by the city in January.

JOLIET – The City Council is being asked to consider expanding the authority of Joliet’s inspector general to investigate local governments and nonprofits that get money from the city as part of a package aimed at reviewing records at the Rialto Square Theatre.

It is not clear yet whether the Rialto board will invite the city’s new inspector general to do an investigation, which could go beyond the theater’s finances. But it may have to let him in if the theater is to continue getting financial support from the city.

The Joliet City Council is scheduled Monday to discuss and possibly vote on expanded powers for the inspector general, an intergovernmental agreement with the Rialto, and the hiring of a firm to do a financial review of the theater.

The actions are being taken as the Rialto has sought increased financial assistance from Joliet to cover late payroll taxes and ensure that performers slated for upcoming shows get paid.

Meanwhile, Theobald Associates, the Joliet accounting firm that the Rialto planned to hire for a financial review of its books, has pulled out.

“It’s really for reasons related to my business,” Theobald said. “I have expressed to the city manager that I have limited resources, and I’m concerned about taking on something that I can’t finish.”

Inspector General Chris Regis told the council last week that he did not know how long his investigation would take or where it might lead.

The City Council now is slated to vote on hiring a financial consultant of its own to review the Rialto’s books. The matter is on the agenda for the Monday and Tuesday meetings of the council, but the name of the firm was not included on the agenda as of Friday.

Theobald Associates originally was to work for the Rialto.

But some council members said at a meeting last week that they wanted Theobald working for the inspector general.

Regis said Friday that his accessibility to the Rialto was being worked on by city and theater officials.

“That’s still going back and forth,” he said. “There’s a draft of the [intergovernmental] agreement, but that’s not finalized.”

The council is slated to vote on an amendment to the ordinance approved in December to create the inspector general’s position to expand investigations to “charitable organizations and other governmental bodies to which the City of Joliet lends either financial or other support.”

City Attorney Marty Shanahan described the amendment as primarily an expansion of job duties that clarifies the inspector general’s ability to investigate the Rialto.

But a council memo from City Manager Jim Hock describes it as an expansion of powers.

“The City frequently lends financial or in kind support to charitable organizations or other governmental bodies,” Hock’s memo states. “In order to insure that our tax dollars are being distributed in the most efficient and responsible fashion possible, the Inspector General should be given the power to investigate such organizations.”

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