After nearly three years of failing to see lawmakers pass a state budget and witnessing the effect it has on social service organizations in the community, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is looking to usher in some change.
“I think that unfortunately, it’s becoming our problem,” he said. “City government, I think we may need to step up to fill the gap until the state can figure out what they’re going to do. I think the county also bares some responsibility for this.”
O’Dekirk wants to call a meeting for organizations like the Spanish Community Center, Warren-Sharpe Community Center and Forest Park Community Center, along with city and county officials, to come up with solutions. O’Dekirk recently visited the Spanish Community Center and learned of the circumstances they face.
“It wasn’t really news, but I guess I didn’t realize just how dire things are getting for the Spanish [Community] Center and a lot of other organizations in our community that rely heavily on state funding,” he said. “They haven’t had it for three years now. I know [with] the Spanish [Community] Center that private individuals have stepped up and are keeping… the doors open, but we really don’t know how much they’re going to stay open.”
O’Dekirk recognizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be a state budget and said he thinks there will be money coming to these groups they just can’t access at this time.
O’Dekirk stressed that bringing all the key players to the table to determine what actions can be taken is important.
“Maybe, in the next couple of weeks, we can get something together,” O’Dekirk said. “We can get everybody at the table and put our heads together to see what we can do in the short-term. These organizations are vital. There’s a lot of people in our community that depend on them.”
O’Dekirk said he doesn’t think it’s wise to assume the issue will subside if officials don’t take action.
“It’s not our problem, but it’s become our problem,” he said.
Recruitment services proposal approved
Also at that meeting, the Joliet City Council accepted a proposal by GovHR to begin the hiring process for a new city manager.
In a 7-0 vote at their April 18 meeting, council action allows for the approval of a proposal for recruitment services necessary to proceed with a search. Councilwoman Bettye Gavin was not present.
Joliet officials said their decision to work with GovHR is based, in part, on how quickly the position could be filled because they already have a community profile.
On April 6, City Manager Jim Hock submitted his retirement notice to the city council.
The city will pay GovHR $21,000 to perform the recruitment services they’re seeking.
Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan named interim city manager
O’Dekirk announced that Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan will serve as the interim city manager.
“It’s probably the most seamless way to do this, as opposed to taking someone else from the city or hiring someone from the outside who’s not going to know where our city lies in a couple months,” O’Dekirk said. “[We’d need to] get them up to speed.”
Hock is set to retire on May 3 from his post as the city manager.
“Chris Regis, the inspector general, is going to take over Marty’s position as corporation counsel,” O’Dekirk said.
O’Dekirk gave credit to Shanahan and Regis for stepping up.