Grafton Township looks to secure town hall ownership

Township on target to secure town hall ownership with loan, savings

HUNTLEY – Grafton Township will look to use a $200,000 loan and other budgeted money to reclaim ownership of its town hall, an effort that could close a turbulent chapter in the township’s history.

The Grafton Township Board unanimously authorized the township last week to borrow $200,000 and appropriate $100,000 to pay the Grafton Road District the remaining $300,000 owed for the title and deed of the town hall along Vine Street in Huntley.

“Once that is completed, we have officially put to rest all of the problems the [former board] had in the past,” Supervisor Jim Kearns said.

The Road District bought the town hall after the township planned to build a new $2.5 million building along Haligus Road in 2009. But a lawsuit from former Supervisor Linda Moore and other Grafton residents halted the township’s plans.

The plan to take ownership back from the Road District consequently stalled, as lawsuits and conflicts between Moore and the former Grafton trustees mounted.

The infighting nearly bankrupted the township earlier this year, after the former board made the final $300,000 installment to the district only to realize that the move would drain the township’s finances.

Kearns now will look to secure a loan in mid-October, and repayment to the district would begin.

“Our plan is to have it paid off, and the deed and title of the property will revert back to the township like it was supposed to be done in the past,” Kearns said. “This is completing what the electors voted to do over the last four years.”

The $200,000 loan at a 4.25 interest rate will be paid back in four years, Kearns said. A dramatic reduction in legal fees has created room in current and future budgets to cover the loan, he said.

The township, in fact, had a total legal bill of $228 last month. The township on average spent $15,724 a month on legal fees in the three years prior under old leadership.

Kearns and an overhauled board have been busy paying the township’s unpaid vendors and attorney fees since taking office in May. The board relied on incoming property-tax revenue and austere spending to try to replenish the township’s near-bankrupt finances.

The new repayment plan for the hall also will end the $1,050 monthly rent payments that the township had been making to the Road District to occupy the building, Kearns said.

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