JOLIET – City Council members are questioning how the Rialto Square Theatre is booking shows and spending money before they sign off on a $250,000 second installment of annual funding for the theater.
Counting kids’ shows such as “Pete the Cat” in meeting the city quota of 30 shows by the end of June caused one council member to express disbelief at a Monday workshop meeting.
“They couldn’t possibly,” Councilman Terry Morris said after hearing that two performances of “Pete the Cat” were being counted by the Rialto in meeting the terms of the theater’s agreement with the city.
“No, they’re counting kid shows,” interim City Manager Marty Shanahan replied.
“You mean we had to be more specific?” Morris asked.
The 30-show quota was put in place to ensure the Rialto was bringing people downtown to meet a city goal of generating customers for downtown businesses, particularly for restaurants and bars.
Shanahan noted the kids’ shows are staged for schoolchildren who are brought in on school buses and leave that way immediately after the show.
“Most likely the kids are not exiting the bus and getting a beer at Chicago Street,” Shanahan told the council.
Kids’ shows account for eight of the 32 shows that the Rialto has lined up this year, he said.
“Did they meet the four corners of the agreement? Yes,” Shanahan said. “Did they meet what we all thought and expected?”
Shanahan left the second question unanswered and said he expected more discussion at the regular meeting Tuesday.
He has asked Rialto representatives to come to the meeting.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman, meanwhile, questioned a building management agreement the Rialto has made with Olivieri Brothers that will cost about $115,000 through 2018.
Quillman said that contract plus the salary for new Executive Director Valerie Devine’s takes up most of the $250,000 second installment the city would provide.
“I’m just baffled where all this money’s coming from,” Quillman said.
The City Council agreed to provide the $500,000 annual contribution only after a showdown with the Rialto that culminated with the entire previous board resigning.
Shanahan suggested there may be a debate on the matter again.
“At budget time, I’m going to have to make a determination on what we are going to do next year,” he told the council.
The council on Tuesday also will vote on a new Class V liquor license to be required of any establishment that has video gambling machines.
The license will cost $250 plus the establishment will have to pay $250 for each video gambling machine it has.
Interim City Attorney Chris Regis said the fees are in line with what other municipalities charge for licensing video gambling machines.
The council also will consider increasing the fee on applications for liquor licenses from the current rate of $100 to $750.