ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – Nick Chirikos, a former road district employee fired on Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser’s first day in office, showed up to Algonquin Township’s monthly meeting Wednesday and called for trustees to lower the salary of his former boss.
“My concerns are many regarding our local township government and, in particular, its road district,” said Chirikos, a former McHenry County Board member. “Once a vibrant and well-functioning organization, which almost had unanimous support of its residents, it has devolved into a chaotic, factious and deeply conflated state.”
Chirikos, who received a termination notice along with road district employees Derek Lee and Andrew Rosencrans, said the township’s recent struggles are the product of the election that replaced former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller.
He said the township’s board should lower Gasser’s salary of about $94,000.
“With his election, Mr. Gasser assumed a fully developed salary of a 30-plus-year veteran road commissioner without so much as a day’s worth of experience in this highly technical position,” Chirikos said. “The position of road commissioner should be an appointed position, hiring dependent upon and paid according to
experience, knowledge and formal training of that candidate.”
Chirikos asked the board to consider lowering Gasser’s salary to coincide with his level of experience.
Gasser, who sat near the front of the room Wednesday night, did not comment on Chirikos’ remarks, and the meeting continued.
Township trustees went on to approve an audit of 2016-17 claims as follows: $185,078 in the equipment and building fund, $11,370 in the general assistance fund, $98,093 in the town fund and $198,556 in the road and bridge fund.
Trustee Melissa Victor shared her concern with the road district’s spending on engineering fees for various road projects.
“My main concern is that we’re spending all this money, and we don’t have them in the line item,” Victor said. “We’re supposed to always stay under 100 percent, but my concern is that we’re at like 433 percent.”
The original 2016-17 road district budget allotted $30,000 for engineering. As of Dec. 1, the road district has spent $130,130.39, or 434 percent of the budget.
“Can we be spending and writing checks out when we don’t have the money there to pay it?” Victor said. “That’s where my concern is.”
The engineering costs are tied to work on Dennis Avenue and the Edwards Road bridge, Gasser said.
“We need to have that amended budget,” Gasser said, “and that will bring that back into line.”
In January, Algonquin Township officials plan to amend the road and bridge budget to put more money in the highway commissioner’s engineering line item to pay for engineering costs tied to projects.
Gasser said the road district is “doing actually very well.”
“I’ve talked to a couple other highway commissioners,” Gasser said. “They’re sitting at 65, 70 percent of their annual budgets spent, and right now, even with all the spending we’ve had, we’re at 56.1 percent.”
Gasser said the road district is working with the budget it inherited.
“That’s why it’s so important that we have this amended budget next month,” Gasser said.