According to the Proviso Herald, Maywood's village manager and village attorney have urged board members to rescind a contract awarded to a company owned by a village firefighter and to instead award the contract to another company -- one owned by the firefighter's family.
Under state statute, municipal employees should not have a financial interest in any contract or work for the municipality.
Dave Lundy, public liaison officer for the Better Government Association, said awarding a contract to a family member of a village employee is legal. However, he said, "It's certainly unwise."
"Half of the problem in government ethics is the perception of government impropriety," Lundy said. "When you have a municipality awarding contracts to members of the family where previously they awarded it to the city worker, it looks like (the municipality) is trying to circumvent the rules."
The village is investigating a similar situation with another village vendor, according to a Jan. 9 memo from Village Manager Jason Ervin and Village Attorney Michael Jurusik. Ervin declined to provide details on the investigation.
In December, the village awarded a contract to Fredderick's Custom Upholstery to re-upholster chairs in the council chambers. The company is owned by firefighter Fred Saffold. Saffold said he made clear his position as a village firefighter when making a presentation about his company in December.
Ervin said at the Jan. 13 Village Board meeting the definition the village used for "municipal officer" did not include public safety officers.
When he found out his company could not do work for the village, Saffold said he recommended Gibson's Corner Custom Upholstery and was "definitely clear" with Ervin that Gibson's was owned by his grandparents.
The Jan. 9 memo from Ervin and Jurusik requested that the Village Board rescind the contract with Fredderick's and award a $33,000 contract to Gibson's.
Saffold was not present at the Jan. 13 meeting, and there was no discussion of Saffold's ties to Gibson's during that meeting.
Ervin said the ownership of Gibson's "was not relevant."
"The question is, Does (Gibson's) violate the statute? The answer is no," Ervin said.
Board members voted on Jan. 13 to rescind the contract with Fredderick's but took no action on the Gibson's proposal. Ervin said the project would be completed "in house" but did not have details on the cost or which department would complete the project.