When four Niles citizens, including Mayor Robert Callero, went to the village's Sister City of Pisa, Italy, last month, two things happened.
They discussed with Pisa representatives the possibility of student exchanges and cooperation on the business and cultural fronts.
And at the June village board meeting, some trustees asked questions about the relationship between the village and its Sister Cities organization, and afterward, the village attorney explained some of the details. More will be clarified at the village's next Finance Committee meeting, tentatively set for July 18.
Read More: Niles group visits Pisa June 14-18
Niles has four Sister Cities: Nafplion, Greece; Leixlip, Ireland; and Limanowa, Poland.
Confusion over responsibilities
Regarding the relationship between Sister Cities and the village, "I think there's just confusion," said Trustee Rosemary Palicki after the June meeting.
"Are they (the Niles Sister Cities organization) accountable to us ? Who is responsible for overseeing any funds they have? If we do have a responsibility to them, we have to clarify what our role is going to be."
She suggested an ordinance, or the practices of the committee, may need to be changed.
Who's running it?
Trustee Chris Hanusiak said his business became a corporate sponsor of Sister Cities, and that he was told he'd be notified of any trips the organization planned, but that he was not notified of the June trip to Pisa. He also said he would be told of meetings the group had, but there haven't been any.
"So who's running this?" he asked. "I said, 'why don't you have a meeting and bring the bylaws? Who has signature authority for the checkbook?"
Sister Cities is an independent non-profit
Niles Village Attorney Joe Annunzio, who is also chair of the Italy delegation of the Niles Sister Cities organization, said the Niles Sister Cities organization is a private 501c3 not-for-profit that has its own directors, apart from the village. It raises most of its funds through the annual held each November at .
He likened the village's relationship to Sister Cities to the relationship it has with the Niles Historical Society, another non-profit with its own board of directors.
"We donate money to them, but we can't tell them what to do," he explained. "They are their own separate organization."
The village acts as an oversight body for Sister Cities, Annunzio said, but if the directors want to pursue their own course of action, the village can't tell them to do otherwise.
Committee needs new volunteers
Part of the problem, he said, is that the Niles Sister Cities organization needs a fresh infusion of volunteers and members to re-energize it. The directors of the non-profit currently include Dennis McEnerney, a Niles Police Department division commander, for Ireland; Andrew Wywrot, a village employee, for Poland; George Alpogianis, a former trustee, for Greece, and Annunzio for Italy. Annunzio said he's asked to be removed from the Sister Cities director position because it could present a conflict with his village attorney position.
"Three of the four are village employees," Annunzio acknowledged. "But as long as Andrew (Wywrot), for example, does what he does after work, it's OK."