The Joliet City Council was divided again Tuesday in an arrangement that makes Steve Jones the interim city manager and opens a path for him to become a contractor for the city in the future.
“This is double dipping,” Councilman Larry Hug said.
The agreement, approved in a 5-3 vote, makes it possible for Jones to go on pension starting March 1 while continuing to work for the city as a contractor.
Whether Jones will do that or whether the city council will even keep him as a contract employee were unanswered questions.
Councilman Pat Mudron said the employment agreement for Jones is “the best move for the city of Joliet in moving ahead to find a permanent city manager.”
Joliet has not had a permanent city manager since October, when David Hales left after less than a year on the job, and the city council has been at odds since May about what do about the position.
The agreement makes Jones the interim city manager as an employee for the city until Feb. 29, getting paid at an annual rate of $192,000 a year.
The agreement does not bind the city to keep Jones as interim city manager until Feb. 29. If he were to be kept in the position longer, Jones would become a contract employee under a new arrangement.
He would be paid at a rate of $180,000, and the city would pay vendor fees of 40 percent of salary to a third-party contractor through which Jones would be employed.
Jones has told the council that he does not want to remain as city manager and was trying to make arrangements to convert to a contractual employee before he was put into the job in June.
His regular job is deputy city manager/economic development director, a $150,000-a-year position that requires Jones to serve as city manager if the office is vacated.
The agreement also arranges for Jones to be contracted starting March 1 as economic development director for Joliet at a rate of $120,000 a year plus vendor fees.
Some council members questioned whether the city would be obligated to hire Jones.
“Does this obligate the city to hire me? No, it doesn’t,” Jones told the council, adding that he may not go on pension if hired as a contractor.
“You’re doing something that many people consider unethical,” Hug said. “Some would say unethical. But everyone says double dipping is wrong.”