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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre makes payroll cuts

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre has cut most administrative staff to three-day work weeks through August.

Interim General Manager Jack Ericksen said Tuesday that he informed the staff of the budget cut in the afternoon.

He said the move affecting five employees was made "obviously for cost-cutting measures."

The reduction in hours was made after Finance Manager Dale Evans told the Rialto board last week that meeting payroll in August would be difficult because of the three pay periods in the month instead of the usual two.

Ericksen and Evans will continue to work five-day weeks.

"We have to be there full-time," Ericksen said.

However, Ericksen said he did not know if they would continue to get full-time pay through the month.

"We are making payroll tomorrow," Ericksen said Tuesday. "There are two more pay periods unfortunately in August. We are just going to monitor our cash flow for the two-week pay periods."

The four-person maintenance staff, which includes a supervisor and three engineers, will not have its hours cut, Ericksen said.

The Rialto has already been cutting costs by not filling positions as people left, including four in the administrative offices and two on the building maintenance crew.

Ericksen, also the Rialto's development director, stepped into the interim general manager role in March when a separation agreement was reached with former General Manager Randy Green, who received three months in severance pay. His departure was prompted by the theater's failure to pay payroll taxes for several pay periods, a situation that has since been corrected.

Green has not been replaced, and the board is currently reviewing proposals from outside management companies to take over Rialto operations. Ericksen said the Rialto is attempting to get new management in place by early September.

Technical Director Lori Carmine has not been replaced since she left in early July to become park manager at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park.

Other administrative positions left unfilled are assistant finance manager and box office manager. The Rialto also has not replaced a building engineer and a custodian.

The Rialto in recent weeks also ended an outside contract with a cleaning company. Ericksen said that work was taken over by staff in another cost-cutting measure.

Evans last week told the board that the Rialto has about $30,000 in cash available going into August. He said later that basic payroll costs are about $80,000, although that number varies depending on crews hired for shows.

The Rialto has all but stopped staging shows until it puts in a new management structure. But the theater continues to get income from rentals for weddings, dance recitals and other events.

Office rentals also generate revenue, and the Rialto board last week gave final approval to lease for the fall with Prairie State Legal Services for about $43,000 a year.

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