Joliet mayor commends council on Rialto decision; Quillman disturbed by missed opportunities
Brock A. Stein | 3/15/2016, 9:08 p.m.
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk commended the city council Tuesday for taking a principled stance to postpone their decision to bail out the Rialto Theater.
On Monday, in their pre-council meeting, the members voted to withhold an early payment to the Rialto Square Theater in order to pay $110,000 in back federal taxes.
The city was due to make their second quarterly payment of $150,000 to the theater on April 1, but was asked to forward the money by Wednesday this week after meeting with the theater board’s president and attorney. City Manager Jim Hock earlier in the week authorized a payment of $10,000 to pay back state payroll taxes.
The theater’s general manager, Randy Green, who has been asked to step down, is accused of not paying state and federal pay roll taxes for November and December and for only the month of January of this year.
“It would have been easy for the council to simply write the check, advance the money we had already promised and basically walk away from the situation,” said O’Dekirk.
The council agreed to wait until a termination agreement could be reached with Green before deciding whether to advance the money.
“Politically I think we all put ourselves out there to get criticized for the stance we took,” said the mayor.
In addition to the $110,000 owed in back payroll taxes, an audit by the city finance department and township auditors found that the theater owes about $395,000 in bills to vendors as well with only about $72,000 in cash on hand.
Despite the perilous situation for the Rialto’s future, O’Dekirk said that the decision to withhold the funds is “the most responsible for the people of Joliet.”
In other Rialto news, council woman Jan Quillman said that she learned Tuesday that theater management had turned down opportunities to bring in more revenue.
Most recently, Quillman said, that the theater turned down an opportunity to host a rally for Bernie Sanders’ Presidential election campaign. Sanders, Quillman noted, has opened a local campaign office at 58 N. Chicago St. She called the news “disturbing.”
“For me that would have been a no brainer whether you’re a republican or democrat,” said Quillman who said that an event for a Presidential candidate would have brought in revenue to local businesses downtown and national new coverage of the city.
“That would have brought a lot of money in to the city of Joliet,” said Quillman who said that the theater failed to capitalize on opportunities to bring in revenue since the “marquee fiasco” last year.
Quillman said that organizers were told by Rialto representatives “we can’t do it here” and “this won’t work here.”
“This political rally would have brought us national attention,” said Quillman.