Algonquin Township trustees on Wednesday night rejected about $168,000 in lawyer bills and equipment purchases Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser submitted for approval.
Supervisor Charles Lutzow and Trustee Rachael Lawrence were absent from the meeting, but the remaining quorum raised questions about Gasser’s expenditures.
“Once again,” Trustee Melissa Victor said, “if Mr. Gasser would come to a meeting and explain these things, I’m sure this would easily be cleared up.”
Gasser did not attend the meeting and could not be reached for comment.
Victor motioned to pull $34,980 in bills from Gasser’s $400-an-hour Woodstock attorney Robert Hanlon. Trustee Dan Shea, running the meeting in place of Lutzow, seconded the motion. The board rejected the same round of bills, 3-2, last month.
“This lawyer is taking advantage of the township and the road district,” Victor said.
Hanlon’s bills have accounted for the largest portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees mounted in Gasser’s office since he took office last year. Since June 2017, Hanlon’s firm has billed the road district for more than $400,000.
Shea called the legal spending “irresponsible.”
Trustee Dave Chapman described the pile of legal bills in Gasser’s office as “reprehensible,” but he could not vote against paying them because Illinois law requires him to approve expenditures as long as the road commissioner has the money in his budget.
The board unanimously voted, 3-0, to pull an additional $133,000 in bills tied to road district equipment purchases that included a new Peterbilt 348 truck bought for $87,959 and a 2019 Ford F-350 bought for $41,777.
Victor raised concerns about whether the road district went to bid.
Illinois Highway Code rules that when the cost of construction, materials, supplies, new machinery or equipment exceeds $20,000, the contract is to go to the lowest responsible bidder.
“I’ve asked for Mr. Gasser’s bid package that he went into agreement [with],” Clerk Karen Lukasik said. “As clerk, I have not received those records, nor do I have those records.”
“If he didn’t provide the documentation,” Chapman said, “we’re not going to pay it.”