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Local News

Joliet council will review Rialto funding proposal this week

The Rialto Square Theatre is seen in January in Joliet. The theater board and city officials are currently discussing a possible intergovernmental agreement.
The Rialto Square Theatre is seen in January in Joliet. The theater board and city officials are currently discussing a possible intergovernmental agreement.

JOLIET – The Joliet City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss a proposal from the Rialto Square Theatre that would assure funding for the theater through 2017 and beyond.

The Rialto Square Theatre developed the proposal at the same time that city officials have been contemplating a takeover of the theater.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Monday he is uncertain whether Joliet should take ownership of the theater, but he also sounded skeptical about the intergovernmental agreement proposed by the Rialto.

The special city council meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. The Rialto board also is slated to review the agreement when it meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

O’Dekirk noted that the proposal has some changes from a similar agreement proposed by the city earlier this year, most notably that it seeks four years of funding.

“The terms in the agreement – some of them – are significantly different than anything that’s been discussed before,” the mayor said. “I think it’s odd that they want a four-year agreement.”

The proposal gives the city finance director and inspector general access to all financial records, contracts and other financial information. It also pledges Rialto cooperation should the city ever want to conduct a forensic audit of the theater.

The city, in turn, would fund the Rialto for the next four years starting at $500,000 in 2017 and declining in the next four years to $450,000, $400,000 and $350,000 for 2018 to 2020, respectively.

The agreement also commits both sides to working together to develop a “dedicated funding source” – typically a tax created to fund a specific entity such as the Rialto – to replace city funding.

“We came up with this trying to figure out what the city’s concerned about and trying to address the issues preemptively,” said David Silverman, the attorney for the Rialto board. “It was intended to prompt a discussion.”

The city budget scheduled for approval next week, unlike city budgets for years, does not include any funding for the Rialto.

Joliet City Manager Jim Hock last week made a proposal for the city to seek a change in state legislation, which set up the governing authority for the Rialto, in order to transfer control to the city.

Hock on Monday acknowledged that such legislation could not be done until the spring at the earliest.

But Councilman Michael Turk said legislators in a meeting to discuss the issue said it could take a year or longer.

Turk said the proposed intergovernmental agreement could become a basis for negotiating city spending for the Rialto, but he said the four-year funding proposal would definitely be an issue.

“I think that’s going to be one of the sticking points, and I think that’s one of the things that’s going to be negotiated,” he said.

HAIRBALL COMING
The Rialto Square Theatre announced Monday that Hairball, a 1980s rock tribute band, is coming to the theater for an 8 p.m. performance on Jan. 20. Tickets go on sale Friday. Tickets are $20, $25 and $35. They can be ordered online at Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Rialto box office, 102 N. Chicago St.

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