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Article updated: 2/14/2014 6:37 PM

Island Lake’s finance director fired following pension fund debacle

Longtime Island Lake Finance Director John Little has been fired and replaced by an appointed treasurer.

Longtime Island Lake Finance Director John Little has been fired and replaced by an appointed treasurer.

 

PAUL VALADE | Staff Photographer

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Outraged by a $389,000 gap in the town's police pension fund, the Island Lake village board has fired longtime Finance Director John Little.

Effective immediately, Treasurer Ed McGinty will oversee the village's finances on a full-time basis, officials said.

McGinty had been named the town's part-time treasurer in November. His hiring was prompted by an auditor's 2013 discovery of the pension fund shortfall.

"I would very much like to help get the village back on track," McGinty told the Daily Herald on Friday. "Hopefully we can turn this thing around and get the village financially stable again."

Little, who was hired in 2002, couldn't be reached for comment.

The personnel changes were made during the board's meeting Thursday. Neither move was approved unanimously.

The board voted 4-3 to fire Little.

Trustees Mark Beeson, Tony Sciarrone and Keith Johns were joined by Mayor Charles Amrich in voting to dump Little.

Trustees Shannon Fox, Thea Morris and Chuck Cermak opposed the change.

In an interview Friday, Beeson blamed Little for the pension fund debacle.

Between 2010 and 2013, only 27 percent of the money that was supposed to go into the retirement fund actually made it there, officials have said. The balance was used to pay other bills, according to an audit.

Reached Friday, Cermak said he didn't think the pension issue should've cost Little his job. The money was needed to pay other bills, Cermak said.

"It's a shame it happened," he said. "I liked the guy."

With Little out of the way, the board voted 4-2 to make McGinty the full-time treasurer. This time, Beeson, Sciarrone, Johns and Cermak favored the move, leaving Fox and Morris in the "no" column.

Because there wasn't a tie, Amrich didn't have to vote the second time.

The change was effective immediately, Beeson said.

"Ed is the right guy, right now," he said.

An accountant who once served on the village's police pension board, McGinty was part of the election slate that ran against Amrich and his allies last April.

McGinty lost by a wide margin.

He now will earn a $70,000 annual salary as the village treasurer. He had been earning $1,200 a year, plus $75 for each board meeting he attended, before Thursday night.

"He's a corporate accountant," Beeson said. "He has a master's (degree) in accounting. That's what you need."

McGinty had been earning a living as controller of Wauconda Tool and Engineering. He said he left the company in December.

Little earned $88,005 in his last year as finance director, officials said.

Little had been a regular punching bag for some trustees and residents in recent years. McGinty's wife, Elizabeth, publicly criticized Little from the audience at a January board meeting as her husband sat silently at a staff table.

In 2011, then-Trustee Laurie Rabattini said the board was preparing to fire Little because of insubordination and other factors, but the move never materialized.

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