Will County Board OKs landfill consultant contract for ex-state tollway chairman

The Will County Board this week approved a contract to hire Robert Schillerstrom, a prominent Republican figure who formerly headed the state tollway board and is an ex-chairman of the DuPage County Board, as a landfill adviser.

In a lengthy debate over his hiring at a special board meeting Tuesday, Schillerstrom’s name hardly was mentioned.

Board members questioning Schillerstrom’s hiring at times seemed not to be familiar with his background, although he has been a prominent enough figure in the Republican Party that Schillerstrom made a bid for governor in 2010 before dropping out of the primary campaign.

Schillerstrom is a private attorney whose public prominence has faded since he resigned from the Illinois Toll Highway Authority in 2019 as Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker took office. He had been appointed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2015.

A contract paying Schillerstrom $15,000 for three months was approved in a 12-6 vote. The contract includes an option for an extension after three months.

Several Democrats questioned Schillerstrom’s expertise in landfills.

Schillerstrom’s former status as chairman at the tollway authority and chairman of the DuPage County Board was never mentioned in the discussion.

Board Chairwoman Judy Ogalla, a Republican from Monee, came closest when she described Schillerstrom’s credentials as being a former county board member in DuPage County, which has two landfills.

“He is somebody who has worked in this situation before,” Ogalla said. “He is experienced in landfill situations.”

Ogalla and other Republicans said they needed a consultant because county staff was not giving them the information they needed.

Will County is considering expansion of its Prairie View landfill in Wilmington, which has been operating for 20 years and is expected to reach capacity in another 10 years.

Schillerstrom will serve as a consultant to the county board’s Landfill Committee.

“I think it’s important for the committee to feel it’s getting unbiased advice,” board member Daniel Butler, a Republican from Frankfort, said.

The hiring of Schillerstrom reflects one more partisan divide in county government. Landfill oversight falls under the duties of County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, a Democrat.

The county board, which is divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, however, will have a say in the future of the landfill.

Democrats said they did not see a need for a consultant to provide the Landfill Committee with information it could get from staff.

The county board did not put out a request for proposals for the consultant contract.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Tatro advised the board that a request for proposals was not required because Schillerstrom’s $15,000 contract is below the $30,000 threshold that would trigger a formal process for hiring professional services. But she noted there could be an issue if the contract is renewed to bring its value to $30,000.

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