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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre can't pay bills until board is appointed

JOLIET – The team resignation by the Rialto Square Theatre board last week has created a new problem at the theater.

The Rialto can’t pay any bills because a board member’s signature is needed on checks.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk pointed out the problem at a city council meeting Tuesday as he announced he intends to name four new members to the board by Jan. 17.

The council on Tuesday approved an intergovernmental agreement, which calls for the city to provide the theater with $500,000 in 2017.

O’Dekirk said he also plans to create a blue ribbon panel to work on a long-term plan for the Rialto.

Noting he has heard from “dozens of people who want to apply for the position,” O’Dekirk said, “It’s clear that there are a lot of people in the community who want to be a part of the solution at the Rialto.”

O’Dekirk said anyone interested in serving on the board should send a résumé to his office.

In the meantime, the Rialto, already about $600,000 behind on its bills, can’t pay any of them without a board member to sign checks.

“Right now, we can’t pay a $5 bill because we don’t have a second signature on the checks,” said John Siehl, chief operating officer for VenuWorks, the company hired last year to manage the Rialto.

Siehl also said VenuWorks plans to stay as management company at the Rialto, and he is confident the backlog in bills will be addressed by the theater foundation.

He said he had no idea the Rialto board was going to resign when it met Thursday.

“It took my breath away,” he said.

O’Dekirk noted that the governor will need to make at least one appointment in addition to the four appointed by the mayor to give the seven-member Rialto board a quorum.

The Rialto board did not explain the group resignation, although one board member, Mary Babich, said it was necessary to ensure $500,000 funding from the city. Board Chairman Dan Vera said there were no stipulations for the resignations.

O’Dekirk did not directly address the resignations, but did make a comment regarding what the city wanted before funding the Rialto.

“I was never interested in a temporary solution to the problem,” he said. “We needed to hold their feet to the fire and not just write another check.”

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