ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – Miscellaneous pay practices have been terminated inside the Algonquin Township Highway Department, according to a memo obtained by the Northwest Herald.
Algonquin Township Trustee Rachael Lawrence emailed Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser on Feb. 28 asking for his miscellaneous pay policy.
Gasser’s response detailed the end of the controversial payment system that has been a pillar of a corruption probe into the finances of former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller:
“Effective immediately all Miscellaneous Pay is terminated,” Gasser wrote.
It was time for a change inside the Algonquin Township Highway Department, Gasser told the Northwest Herald.
“We need a new system,” said Gasser, who had codified his own miscellaneous pay practices to navigate a payroll system he characterized as outdated. “I can’t comment on why Bob [Miller] made his miscellaneous payments. I can only speak for my own.”
Prosecutors inside the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office homed in on the unexplained bonuses – characterized as miscellaneous pay – amid a wider probe into official misconduct during Miller’s tenure.
Until Gasser’s memo surfaced, township officials had no written policy explaining or supporting those payments.
“Effective immediately, the Algonquin Township Road District will no longer make any miscellaneous pay payments,” Gasser wrote, “except those payments which are preapproved in writing and serve a public purpose.”
That public purpose must be put in writing before any expense is incurred, the memo said.
If employees seek payment outside regular pay, the memo said, they must request it in writing and detail its public purpose, get approval from the highway commissioner, submit receipts and request reimbursement.
Gasser’s memo prohibits payments for airfare or personal expenditures – unless the highway commissioner authorizes those expenses.
Mileage accrued during travel to training locations other than Algonquin Township shall be reimbursed at a rate dictated by the Internal Revenue Service, the memo said.
“My only concern is that all of the funds dispensed are legal and substantiating with a corroborating policy,” Lawrence told the Northwest Herald.
A policy on the township side remains absent. Supervisor Charles Lutzow said he is taking steps to make his office more transparent.
“Going further, if you’re going to use miscellaneous pay, it needs to be documented,” said Lutzow, who authorized a large miscellaneous payment to his fired chief of staff, Ryan Provenzano, as a two-week severance.
Algonquin Township is exploring ways to update the government’s computer-based payroll system to remove line items for miscellaneous payment, Lutzow said, but officials have yet to find a solution.
“That would be more transparent,” Lutzow said, “and that’s what we’re trying to improve.”