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Joliet council turns down Rialto agreement

The Joliet City Council voted down Tuesday an intergovernmental agreement that would have advanced more money to the Rialto Square Theatre in exchange for an investigation of theater operations by the city's attorney general.
The Joliet City Council voted down Tuesday an intergovernmental agreement that would have advanced more money to the Rialto Square Theatre in exchange for an investigation of theater operations by the city's attorney general.

JOLIET – The future of the Rialto Square Theatre remained unclear Tuesday when the Joliet City Council voted down an intergovernmental agreement that could have opened the door to more city funding for the theater.

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk had called the agreement "a last-ditch attempt to keep the Rialto open."

But the agreement faced an uncertain fate with the Rialto board as well because of concerns that it would also open the theater to an investigation by the city's new inspector general.

Councilman Pat Mudron, the council's liaison to the Rialto board, opened the discussion suggesting that the proposed intergovernment agreement was overkill.

Mudron said the potential actions by the city could interfere with the Rialto and if left alone the theater could "start to book a fall season, which they have not been able to do."

O'Dekirk said from what he knows of the theater it does not appear to have the financial resources to move ahead without more city assistance.

"I'm not trying to be dire, but I think it's a fair assumption that they could close their doors," O'Dekirk said. "I'm certain they're going to come to us for more funding, and I'm just as certain the council is not going give it to them with what we know."

The city has paid late payroll taxes totalling about $120,000 for the Rialto and has given its guarantee to cover performers' costs this week in the Pauly Shore and Jeff Foxworthy shows, which is expected to reach about $200,000.

The money is coming out of advances from the $600,000 Joliet budgets for the Rialto but usually allots quarterly.

The council took four separate votes regarding the agreement.

One vote to table the agreement and another to kill it lost in 5-4 votes in which O'Dekirk cast the tie-breakers.

Then the council voted 5-3 against the agreement in two separate votes. The agreement was amended for a second vote to address objections to the costs of the city hiring an accountant to review Rialto finances.

Voting against the agreement both times were Larry Hug, Jim McFarland, Terry Morris, Pat Mudron and Jan Quillman. Voting for it were Bettye Gavin, John Gerl and Michael Turk.

While Quillman and Gavin were on opposite sides of the vote, they both said they were concerned that no one from the Rialto board attended the council meeting. There were two members from the Rialto foundation board there.

The council also removed from the agenda a proposal to widen the inspector general's powers to investigate other governmental bodies and nonprofits that receive money from the city.

City Attorney Marty Shanahan described the proposal as a clarification of Inspector General Chris Regis' job duties for the sake of the Rialto assignment. But some council members said the proposal was too broad and should at least go to a committee for review.

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