Lisle Park board accused of pocketing loads of illegal perks
The Lisle Park District board of commissioners and their family members have been granted benefits and perks not authorized by Illinois statutes, a government watchdog group reported recently.
Quoting the park district’s policy manual, the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) said on their Illinois Leaks website that park commissioners receive numerous gifts as compensation for their services, even though the manual also says, “Commissioners shall act as such without compensation.”
Commissioners are allowed to take part in recreational programs at no cost, in addition to getting free season tickets to Sea Lion Aquatic Park. They also get free access to Community Park Fitness and can golf for free at River Bend Golf Course during certain hours.
“So, while they are determining how much to gouge your pockets for these events, they continue to receive free, what you are forced to pay,” John Kraft, ECW co-founder, wrote.
The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act defines compensation as “any money, thing of value, or economic benefit conferred on, or received by, any person in return for services rendered, or to be rendered, by himself or another.”
Kraft said that only Arthur and Clark county park districts have so far rescinded or prohibited such benefits after being notified about unauthorized perks. Many government bodies continue to grant the benefits to their elected officials despite what the statutes say, according to Kraft.
The ECW reported that the benefits given the Lisle Park District commissioners could amount to thousands of dollars annually. Attending dance courses costs from $160 to $321 per season; after-school programs, $12 per person daily; sports programs, up to $162 per person for a season; family passes for the aquatics park, up to $240; and golf course use, $15 per day. The charge to attend seasonal camps is $269 for each student.
The watchdog group found that handing out unauthorized gifts and perks to commissioners is common in library districts, park districts and some county boards throughout Illinois.
“Lisle Park District joins the long list of public bodies granting their elected officials (and their family members) benefits/compensation that are not authorized in state statutes,” Kraft said.
Five commissioners serve on the park board. The district’s facilities include a recreation center and Gentle Learning Preschool, a senior center, Community Park Fitness, the aquatic park, the Wheatstack eatery, the golf club and neighborhood playgrounds.
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1925 Ohio St
Lisle, IL 60532