“I was hoping this board would be different”: Dolton trustees and Mayor butt heads over village spending, hiring of legislative counsel (Dolton, IL) – Tensions between Village of Dolton Trustees and Mayor Tiffany Henyard continued into a regular board meeting held on Sept 7. That tension has spilled over from a series of meetings that have placed Henyard and five trustees – Kiana Belcher, Brittany Norwood, Edward Steave, Tammy Brown and Jason House – at odds.
At the regular meeting the group butted heads with Henyard over village spending and the trustee’s hiring of legislative counsel. On both issues, the trustees said their concerns circled around transparency. That’s an issue that led them to hire their own attorney after alleging the village staff haven’t been responsive to their questions. They also were concerned that certain ordinances related to spending weren’t being followed.
An approved motion to table six items from the village’s corporate bills illustrated the conflict, after Trustee House said invoices for those items were sent to him an hour before the meeting, leaving him little time to review them. He said he requested the invoices on Friday.
“My ask would be that we receive the invoices a little bit more timely,” House said. “If this information had been provided earlier, it could have been approved.”
Steave agreed, alleging department heads were instructed not to give information on the items and pointed him toward the mayor.
“That is not a true statement,” Henyard replied. “If they tell you to see me about something or whatever, you all can call my phone and get (the information).”
Norwood wondered why the trustees had to reach out to the mayor for information that should already be available from staff members. She said she tried to call someone from the finance department to learn more about the corporate bills before the meeting.
“When I called Chris, our finance guy, earlier, I said ‘hey, I just have some questions about some of these items because I’d like to know what they are before my vote tonight and he stated he couldn’t give me that information and that I had to speak to you.”
“My problem is this: I’m thinking that the goal is to make it as easy as possible for when we’re trying to do this research, so that I can be ready to vote. So when he stated that, I’m thinking, what do I do from here? Do I wait until the board meeting to ask you?”
“I feel like every meeting there’s a warrant list, I’m blindsided and I’m rushed to do this research to figure out the expenses that were paid out,” she continued.
Trustees should have called Henyard about the items but board members don’t call her or return her phone calls, she said.
“It’s sad that we can’t communicate with each other as adults,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, Henyard made a speech, at one point noting “it appears that the board of trustees have a hidden agenda and someone’s pulling their strings.”
She also advised the trustees to cancel the hiring of legislative counsel and “move forward with what we have,” alleging the trustees cut funds from the budget to hire the attorney.
“So you guys can find money for your personal attorney, but I thought it was all about the residents,” Henyard said. Trustees have said that cost is built into the budget.
That was before Henyard said she would be vetoing the hiring of the counsel, with Shawnte Raines, the village attorney, citing “procedural deficiencies” in how that move was made. Raines said some of them had to do with the posting of the agenda, which trustees alleged was torn down after posting it on village hall doors.
All special board meeting notices should be signed by the mayor prior to being posted but the posting taped to the door wasn’t signed, Raines said. The meeting notice was also not posted for a continuous period of 48 hours.
“Lastly, absent an emergency an item may not be placed on an agenda for village board approval without that item having been first reviewed at a committee of the whole, that’s pursuant to local ordinances,” Raines explained.
Henyard also said she’d be open to working with the trustees during a retreat of some kind. Trustees Brown said she’d be willing to work with the mayor “but my thing is don’t waste my time going to a retreat talking, then I come back out and the things we say we’re going to do aren’t getting done.”
“So if we’re going to do this, just do it right but if not, scratch all of it and continue how we are now,” Brown said.
“I was hoping this board would be different”: Dolton trustees and Mayor butt heads over village spending, hiring of legislative counsel