News - Joliet and Will County

Jones gets contract to stay as Joliet interim city manager in March

Interim City Manager Steve Jones

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a contract that would keep interim City Manager Steve Jones on the job into March, an arrangement Mayor Bob O’Dekirk branded “unethical.”

"This deal stinks," O'Dekirk said. "It's unethical. I'm not signing it."

O'Dekirk repeatedly questioned council members about the arrangement and at times interrupted them before they could answer. At one point he called some council members "hypocrites" involved in "a scheme."

"It's what Mr. Jones wants so he can collect a salary and a pension," O'Dekirk said. "If you want him to stay employed here, he shouldn't retire."

The contract will allow Jones to retire on Feb. 29 and begin collecting a pension while he stays on the job as an outside contractor.

The council approved it 5-3 with defenders saying it will save the city money.

"It's less money than what we're paying today. The man has a right to retire," said Councilman Pat Mudron.

The agreement pays GovTempsUSA for Jones' services at a rate of $135.10 an hour, which covers Jones' salary and benefits.

That compares to $141.52 an hour spent now to cover the cost of Jones' salary and benefits, according to Kathy Franson, director of human resources for the city.

Franson said the arrangement would save the city nearly $12,000 on an annual basis.

Jones, however, isn't supposed to be around that long.

Joliet is the midst of a search for a city manager and is down to two candidates. Joliet is on its second interim city manager since David Hales left in October 2018 with less than a year on the job.

Jones, formerly assistant city manager and economic development director, already was working on an arrangement to continue his former duties on a contractual basis when he was made interim city manager in June.

"Mr. Jones told us many months ago that March 1 he's retiring whether we have a city manager or not," Councilman Michael Turk told the mayor at one point.

The council in August approved an employment agreement with Jones that provided for his retirement on Feb. 29 and the possibility of keeping him on afterwards on the contractual basis approved Tuesday.

O'Dekirk called it "a bogus deal to keep him here."

Councilwoman Sherri Reardon proposed a second arrangement with Jones that would provide for him to stay as economic development director on a contractual basis in the future.

The council, however, deadlocked on that proposal in 4-4 tie when Turk voted against it, and O'Dekirk broke the tie to reject it.

Turk then joined the 5-3 majority that approved the Jones contract for interim city manager.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News