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General Fund and Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund approvals called into question at Thornton Township meeting

“Don’t turn this into a Dolton board meeting,” Henyard tells trustee

BY QUINTON R. ARTHUR

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (February 24, 2023) – The Thornton Township Board met on Tuesday, February 21. The township’s General Fund and Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund were main discussion points.

Board participation in community events

The meeting was called to order at 6:15 p.m. All township trustees were present with Trustee Jerry Jones joining over the phone.

During public comment, Senior Trustee Joyce Washington highlighted a Valentine’s Day dance held at Thornwood High School. She reminded the rest of the board to attend some of the community events within the township.

“I wish some of the officials would attend these affairs as well. The public, or anyone, are more than invited,” said Washington.

General Fund payroll discussion

During the approval of bills, Trustee Christopher Gonzalez motioned to separate payroll from the list of bills in the General Fund, which was seconded by Washington.

In the discussion, Trustee Gonzalez mentioned wanting to see invoices and other items beforehand.

“There is a lot of stuff that we don’t know exactly the details on what we are voting on,” said Gonzalez.

thornton Township
Thornton Township Trustee Christopher Gonzalez at a Township Board meeting in September 2022. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Trustee Gonzalez said he has raised this issue a few times already in the last few months. Supervisor Tiffany Henyard replied that she and her senior advisor, Keith Freeman, have reached out to Gonzalez with no response.

Freeman serves as Senior Advisor to Henyard and as Village Administrator in the Village of Dolton, where Henyard is the mayor.

“Don’t turn this into a Dolton board meeting,” Henyard said, “One thing that we do here at the Township is that we communicate with everyone on this board. I know that Keith Freeman reaches out to everyone.”

Gonzalez said he hasn’t gotten a call from Henyard in quite some time. He spoke to Freeman, but still hasn’t received anything. Trustee Washington agreed with Gonzalez.

“Don’t make it as though people aren’t giving information or not doing what’s needed here is my point,” Henyard replied.

Washington clarified that she was not going to compare the current practices to those of the past, but Gonzalez’s issue is worth examining.

Henyard said her board has been transparent and open: “I know myself, my administration, and some of the trustees here have been nothing but transparent and open with anything anyone wants here. You all can get it at any given time.”

Thornton Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard at a Township Board meeting in September 2022. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The motion to separate payroll from the general fund was not approved, with Gonzalez and Washington voting yes, and Trustees Jones, Darlene Gray-Everett, and Supervisor Henyard voting no.

The motions to approve the General Fund and General Assistance Fund passed, with similar votes both times. Gray-Everett, Jones and Henyard voted yes, while Gonzalez voted no, and Washington abstained.

Henyard said that when trustees don’t vote on the General Fund, it means that township employees do not get paid and other items do not get paid.

Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund

There was one resolution on the agenda, Resolution 23-R-002. The resolution states:

“A Resolution Determining That the Position of Trustee Is Eligible For Membership in The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund For Thornton Township, Cook County, Illinois.”

Gonzalez asked if there was certain criteria to be eligible for the fund.

Township attorney Tiffany Nelson-Jaworski answered the question, stating that the criteria was 1,000 hours of service, as voted by the Township in the past.

Gonzalez asked how the 1,000 hours of service is documented, such as a timesheet.

Nelson-Jaworski said, “Typically, there is either tracking or an assumption based on you seeing the trustees out there doing stuff and working to show that they are actually reaching the 1,000 hours.”

The township attorney said she wasn’t sure how the administration has tracked the hours in the past and that every community does it a little differently.

Gonzalez asked if there was a person who oversees the process and certifies it, the plan moving forward, and the cost to the township, allof which Nelson-Jaworski said she could not answer.

Director of Finance Robert Hunt answered two of the questions. First, he said, if the resolution was approved, each trustee would sign their own form certifying 1,000 hours of service in a year. In response to the cost of the township, the pension cost to the trustee would be 4.5% and the cost from the township would be 18.7% of that pension rate.

The vote passed with Gonzalez voting no, and the rest of the Township Trustees and Henyard voting yes.

Supervisor’s Report

Henyard started her report reminding the public that any municipality within Thornton Township can access township resources, including mental health resources, help with funeral costs, and more.

“Anybody in the township is welcome to any of the resources in Thornton Township,” she said.

She continued with some of the activities of the Board, such as gas giveaways and bingo nights. Henyard emphasized that the township is working, despite what some may say.

“When the hate don’t work, they start telling lies,” Henyard said.

Henyard finished her report by congratulating the Coolidge Junior High School Boys Basketball team for winning the state championship and reminding seniors they can file their taxes for free with the township. Seniors can sign up for services on the township website.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for March 14, 2023. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. at Thornton Township Hall, 333 East 162nd Street, South Holland.

Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Gonzalez is getting wise. Washington is not convincing. Those meetings should be videotaped for public consumption and review. Henyard is on a short leash these days and she has a hard time dealing with that. She cannot write ANY checks in the village of dolton. She has abused the privilege to the point of it being criminal. The best thing the township can do is be transparent. Henyard’s idea of transparency is like looking through an opaque window.

    • Is there actual proof to your above statement or is this hearsay. I hear & read a lot of negative comments about Ms. Henyard. I’m just wondering why she can’t be stopped if there is valid documentation available.
      Just curious!

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