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Truck still at center of controversy in Hebron

Two trustees say they were unaware of payment to village consultant

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 10:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 7:38 a.m. CDT

HEBRON – Village President John Jacobson says trustees approved the final of four payments to a village consultant Monday night – money originally deferred toward a village-owned truck – but at least two trustees were unaware of the measure shortly after the Village Board meeting.

Jacobson and Mike Miller have said they'd agreed to use the 1990 Ford F-350 as partial payment for Miller's time consulting with the village's public works department – a four-month period that started in the fall. Village payroll records obtained by the Northwest Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed Miller was paid in October, November and January, but not December.

But using a village payment toward the purchase of a village truck ultimately needed trustee approval. The measure has never come before the Village Board, although the sale of the truck did appear on the agenda of a later canceled special meeting in early March.

After Monday night's meeting, Jacobson said Miller has withdrawn his interest in the truck for the time being. He said Miller's missing payment from December was approved by village trustees when they approved the accounts payable.

But the payment isn't on the accounts payable document provided in the board packet, and village Trustees Andrew Georgi and Susan Ritzert – reached by phone after the meeting – said if they approved Miller's final payment at the meeting, they weren't aware beforehand.

"I don't remember seeing any payment to him on any of the bills," Georgi said.

Each wondered whether it had been included in payroll numbers – which aren't broken down by individual employees when provided to the board. They said they hadn't been told new information on Miller's interest, or lack thereof, in the truck.

Handling of the truck was one piece of a Northwest Herald investigation about Jacobson's first 10 months in office, which ran March 8. Some trustees have grown frustrated with a village government that has seen more than a handful of departures under Jacobson – many who've been replaced with staffers of significantly less experience.

Trustees have raised questions about whether the truck has been in village control for months. Ritzert views the issue as a symbol of Jacobson's deceiving leadership tactics.

Monday night, she said the news that Miller had withdrawn his offer was a surprise – but not necessarily a bad thing.

"That's fine with me," she said. "I am still going to look into that truck."

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