Pulse: Baby steps
May 26, 2013 7:44PM
Updated: June 28, 2013 6:25AM
One group was noticeably absent on Tuesday when the county board’s capital improvements committee held a special four-hour workshop on the county’s $441 million in building needs. No one from the sheriff’s office attended, even though Sheriff Paul Kaupas has been pushing hard for a new office complex at Laraway Road and Route 52. Perhaps Kaupas doesn’t like where things are headed? County staffers have proposed starting small and saving the big ticket items for later. The sheriff’s building and a courthouse are big ticket items.
Waiting for the rating
If county officials ever do decide to borrow for a sheriff’s complex or a new courthouse, they will want the lower interest rates that come with a higher bond rating.
County Finance Director Paul Rafac said he has tried really hard to lift the county’s bond rating from an AA+ to AAA. But it just won’t happen until the county’s median income rises, he said. It might take five to 10 years for that to happen.
“We’re not there yet, but we will be,” he said.
Gerl for city manager?
Joliet City Councilman John Gerl gets mentioned as a possible replacement for City Manager Thomas Thanas, who told the council last week to make a transition plan for his departure.
Why not Gerl?
He is a government administrator now at the Forest Preserve District of Will County, where Gerl is chief financial officer. He’s a certified public accountant. He has business experience as the former chief financial officer for home builder Phoenix Developers. A former Will County Board member, Gerl has connections with other local governments.
And, he’s personable.
One problem. He’s not interested.
“I have no interest in being city manager. I enjoy what I’m doing now,” Gerl said when asked whether he’d consider the job.
Plenty of others
Others are interested, however.
They have phoned council members to express interest since news last week that Thanas told the council in a closed session that he’s quitting.
“I told them it’s too premature to even consider that,” Gerl said.
Council members still see the Thanas situation as up in the air. He resigned two months ago and stayed after the council voted to reject the resignation.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante, who had knee replacement surgery and was laid up much of last week, said Friday he plans to talk with Thanas again before beginning any search for a replacement.
Meanwhile, Joliet city finances could take a hit if state Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, is correct in his analysis that a gambling expansion bill is “advancing rapidly.”
Joliet officials predict the city’s gambling taxes could decline as much as 25 percent with new competition from a south suburban casino and slot machines at horse race tracks. Their biggest worry is a casino in the south suburbs.
Rita, the chief sponsor of the gambling bill, called a south suburban casino “non-negotiable.”
Hotel in Romeoville?
The developer that wants to build a hotel/conference center in Joliet also looked at a site in Romeoville.
Sanjiv Mehrota, chief executive for Hospitality Guru Group, said his company remains interested in the Romeoville location at Interstate 55 and Weber Road.
The Joliet hotel would be built at Interstate 80 and Houbolt Road. A tax incentive package is in the works for the Joliet site but was not presented to the city council last week for discussion as had been tentatively planned.
Bob Okon and Cindy Wojdyla Cain contributed to Pulse.