CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — The parks superintendent in Chicago Heights wasn’t fired – he walked – and for that, taxpayers will foot a buyout of more than $200,000 for him.
It is under the watch of the parks superintendent, Frank Perez, that fellow commissioners said money was mishandled.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Showers By Daybreak
Thus, as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, there plenty of was anger and frustration Monday night as word came that Perez walked away from the job with a $212,000 buyout.
Parks commissioners Jessica Mangiaracina and Curtis Straczek were the only two on the board to vote against paying Perez to leave his job.
“This is just absolutely ridiculous to pay over $200,000 to walk away from a job,” Straczek said.
Chicago Heights taxpayers will pay the remaining 18 months left in Perez’s contract – including unpaid vacation and sick leave.
“He’s trying to leave so he doesn’t answer questions, and trying to take the money before he jets out,” Mangiaracina said.
Perez’s departure may be sudden, but it comes on the heels of CBS 2’s reports on questionable spending at the parks division.
The concerns center around invoices the board approved, and to whom the checks were written.
“They’re not matching up to vendor amounts, nor the dollar amounts,” Mangiaracina said.READ MORE: Oak Lawn Woman Got Locked Out Of Her Facebook Business Account, And Even Facebook Can't Be Sure If The Email To Blame Was A Scam
Consider some vouchers from January and February. Both came before the board or $13,500. But the problem is the checks were written and cashed the same day in December – months before the board even saw it.
“Checks must be approved from the board first, before any checks are issued to vendors,” Mangiaracina said.
Another voucher for $428 was supposed to be paid to one woman when it came before the board. But when Mangiaracina requested the actual check, the $428 was written out to Kelley Nichols-Brown, who is a fellow parks commissioner.
“There’s no reason there should be a check written for anyone else – especially a commissioner,” Mangiaracina said.
Spending remains a big concern, and people say Perez’s buyout feels like a punch in taxpayers’ gut.
“They sit there and they laugh because they think they got over on us,” said Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez. “Well guess what. There’s more of us than there is of them.”
Perez’s last day is this Friday. His buyout comes just a few weeks before three newly-elected parks commissioners get sworn in next month.
Perez did not answer any questions Monday night, but before the meeting, he agreed to sit down with CBS 2’s Terry and talk about the discrepancies with the checks and vouchers.MORE NEWS: They Had A Tough Year Of E-Learning, But Southland College Prep Seniors Have Now Racked Up More Than $50 Million In Combined Merit Scholarships
That interview with Perez is scheduled for Tuesday. We’ll find out if he agrees to go ahead with it or if he cancels, because we have a lot of questions for him.