McHenry Township voters will get a voice on local government consolidation

McHenry Township voters will get a voice on local government consolidation

Following years of work by consolidation advocates, the McHenry Township board of trustees passed a motion allowing voters to decide whether to dissolve their local road district in November.

Residents in McHenry Township will have the opportunity to vote in November’s election on whether to consolidate their local road district.

The township board voted 3-2 in favor of placing the consolidation referendum on the ballot during a special meeting Feb. 13, but not before a plethora of public comments denouncing the motion that lasted over an hour.

Seventeen out of the 21 who spoke publically cited a lack of data and information for their opposition to the resolution. Many said they wanted a study to be conducted that would determine whether taxpayer money would be saved by eliminating the road district.

Township board member Bob Anderson thinks it was a tactic to delay the vote.

“I believe the only reason that the people brought up the study was to stall,” he said.

The referendum was spearheaded by Anderson, who has long been an advocate for government consolidation. For 30 years the Wonder Lake resident, who owns and runs a barber shop, has worked towards abolishing the local township.

He won a seat on the board in April 2017 with that message, and has since faced dangerous backlash due to his efforts to consolidate some of the nearly 7,000 units of local government in Illinois.

Reducing that number could hold the key to lowering property tax bills in Illinois, which are some of the highest in the country, and could also keep residents in their homes, instead of forcing them to move out of state just to see some tax relief.

House Bill 607 allowed Anderson to raise the road district consolidation motion after it went into effect on Jan. 1. The bill says townships can vote to place a question on the ballot, asking residents if they are in favor of eliminating their road district and road commissioner.

The motion was rejected during the board’s monthly meeting on Jan. 11, and then was pushed again Feb. 8 to the Feb. 13 special meeting. If the public votes to dismantle the road district, the changes wouldn’t take place for three years. At that point, the township would then take over the responsibilities of the road district.

“They are afraid of the voters, they can make their case, but this … is a simple question; do you want the oversight of the township road district in the hands of one or five?” Anderson said.

“If it takes this much to [consolidate] a small sliver of government then we’re never going to save Illinois.”

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