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Algonquin Township Board approves payment of road salt bill

Trustee Rachael Lawrence listens to public comment during an Algonquin Township Board meeting March 20 in Crystal Lake. Trustees on Wednesday voted to make a $107,000 payment to Compass Minerals for road salt that Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser is accused of purchasing without following Illinois bidding laws.
Trustee Rachael Lawrence listens to public comment during an Algonquin Township Board meeting March 20 in Crystal Lake. Trustees on Wednesday voted to make a $107,000 payment to Compass Minerals for road salt that Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser is accused of purchasing without following Illinois bidding laws.

Algonquin Township will pay a $107,000 road salt bill to Compass Minerals after approving payment at a meeting Wednesday night.

A $107,095.43 payment to the Kansas-based company from the Road and Bridge Fund was approved by all present trustees with no extra discussion. The bill was removed from the fund at the township’s last meeting, but put back in the Road and Bridge Fund audit and not removed at this meeting. The township had refused to pay the bill for months.

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser is accused of buying 54 truckloads of rock salt from Compass Minerals without going through the required competitive bidding process. Officials have said Gasser paid almost $30 more a ton than what other area road districts paid for salt by not following the state’s bidding code, as the Northwest Herald previously reported.

Billing records show that Gasser committed to pay a total of $105,875 to Compass Mineral for the salt, which was delivered Oct. 6.

On the Sunday before Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Rachael Lawrence wrote an email to the township board urging trustees to approve the unpaid bill, even though she previously had been against paying it.

“My change in my decision on that is that Andrew Gasser may have made a mistake, but the board had the opportunity to correct it,” she said after the meeting. “I think that the negative consequences to our constituents are more important than not paying this bill. ... I don’t want my constituents to be endangered.”

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally previously sent the matter to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for review, because of what Kenneally said were conflicts of interest.

Richard Cenar, the chief of public integrity at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, wrote that charges would not be filed against Gasser in a June 12 letter.

In her email, Lawrence wrote that because the act of purchasing the salt without following bidding laws was not found to be a prosecutable offense, she does not believe that the board’s approval of payment would be either.

“Thus, my main concern of the Board of committing an unlawful act is eased,” she wrote.

Pam Gavers, administrative assistant to the township supervisor, said the check for the bill will be signed and sent Thursday.

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