Jessica Mathews /

The Genoa Township Board is following through with an independent investigation of Clerk Polly Skolarus.

At their last meeting, the board approved a proposal from the Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes firm to perform an independent investigation and report regarding various issues related to Skolarus.

There was no discussion prior to the vote, which was unanimous with Skolarus abstaining.

At the May 16th meeting, a request was placed on the agenda by Skolarus for reimbursement of $5,000 in legal fees after a not-guilty verdict was reached in April in a criminal case against her. She had faced a misdemeanor election law charge after allegations she used unapproved ballot containers in the November 2020 election.

Skolarus maintains she told the board from the beginning she was not guilty and the trial backed that up.

Instead of taking up the request from Skolarus at the May meeting, the board instead approved a motion to seek out an independent third-party to investigate different matters and prepare a report and recommendation about various issues.

Treasurer Robin Hunt made the motion, saying she didn’t feel there was enough information to make a decision related to the request but also raised other issues that have come up including allegations of the clerk’s alleged mistreatment of employees and potential violations of the Open Meetings Act.

Some issues to be looked into by the independent counsel include whether Skolarus was under-compensated by the township in 2016; whether the board should reimburse Skolarus for attorney fees and costs she incurred as a result of a criminal case; whether Skolarus has treated township employees improperly or unlawfully; whether Skolarus violated the Open Meetings Act in conducting a recent Election Commission meeting; and other issues of impropriety or misconduct concerning Skolarus.

It was estimated that the cost of the investigation and the associated report will be in the range of $10,000 to $20,000. However, a memo from the firm stated some of the issues had the potential to be quite broad so a definite estimate was pre-mature and they’ll keep the township advised on a monthly basis so it can keep an eye on the costs being incurred.