Peru City Council voted unanimously Monday to have retired La Salle County judge William Balestri to review and investigate improper compensation for a city employee.
The issue involves an employee regularly receiving extra overtime pay that was outside the city’s wage ordinance and outside a collective bargaining agreement with organized labor, Alderman Dave Potthoff said. The decision to appoint Balestri as investigator follows two recent closed council meetings about the matter, he said.
The city’s attorney, Doug Schweickert, said he was scheduled to meet with Balestri next week but aldermen pressed to have Balestri meet with them. Schweickert said that could be arranged in a closed session scheduled by the city clerk.
Schweickert previously provided the names of three retired judges to the council and the council picked Balestri, Schweickert said. Schweickert said he suggested retired judges because private firms specializing in municipal law would cost the city more than the amount in question, roughly $30,000 in gross wages.
Balestri likely will draft “findings of fact” and recommendations. Schweickert said.
This fall an employee discovered irregularities in this employee’s pay and brought the matter to a department head, who in turn notified the human resources director and City Clerk Dave Bartley, who reviewed time sheets, Bartley told the News Tribune last week. The mayor and aldermen were notified of the matter in early November, he said.
At Monday’s meeting, Alderman Rodney Perez said he found Balestri to be a good pick but also said he wanted the city instead to forward the case to the state’s attorney office and/or the state attorney general’s office because local investigators might have a conflict. Schweickert said if the judge has a conflict once discovering the details he likely would disqualify himself from the investigation.
Perez also said he wanted the council to meet with Balestri and inform him of the details before deciding to appoint him. Other alderman explained that once Balestri is appointed it will be his job to assemble the details.
Monday night after the council meeting, Perez e-mailed the NewsTribune to say that right after the meeting, he e-mailed the details to the state’s attorney office in La Salle County.
“I just made a formal written request with specific details to State’s Attorney Office Brian Towne, requesting this information gets forwarded to Attorney General's Office for review. The State’s Attorney was given informal information of details but I wanted to make a formal complaint and request. If the attorney general will not, or cannot investigate this, I'd like a response from them stating that. I will let my fellow aldermen know this, which I'm confident they will be OK with.”
In other business the council:
Þ Approved Christmas bonuses of $50 for fulltime and $25 for part-time city employees.
Þ Authorized purchasing back property taxes of $25,538.53 for Peru Inn, former Econo Lodge, 1840 May Road.
Þ Authorized reassignment of Tax Increment Financing District redevelopment agreement from Barley Equities IX, LLC to GPT Peru Owner LLC.
Þ Authorized payment of $162,647.50 to Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund to satisfy the early retirement incentive obligation charge for former public works employee, Joe Prazen.
Þ A uthorized final pay application and final change order for the 2013 street program. The net change order is minus $51,300.62, Alderman Dave Waldorf said.
Þ Accepted proposal from Stewart Spreading to provide sewage sludge hauling services for 8.2 cents per gallon for approximately 500,000 gallons, not exceed $50,000.
Þ Announced that Peru Citizen Service Organization will hang Christmas decorations Dec. 1 on city streets and remove them Jan. 5 using a city bucket truck.
Reporter Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or email@example.com.