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McHenry Township trustee seeks study on effect of consolidation

Ken Koontz for Shaw Media
McHenry County Trustee Bob Anderson listens to discussion during the McHenry Township board meeting Thursday at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.
Ken Koontz for Shaw Media McHenry County Trustee Bob Anderson listens to discussion during the McHenry Township board meeting Thursday at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.

JOHNSBURG – One newly elected McHenry Township trustee remains set on examining the effect of township consolidation.

Trustee Bob Anderson, a longtime advocate of township consolidations or eliminations, urged township Supervisor Craig Adams on Thursday to determine whether McHenry County plans to conduct an independent study to examine the financial effect of township consolidation.

Should the county not be conducting one, Adams said the township would look into conducting its own outside study on the effect of consolidations.

“I think the board has the opportunity to move forward and get that study, and say that we would like to do what’s possible to get it on the ballot,” Anderson said.

Tensions between McHenry Township trustees persisted Thursday night in the third meeting held with recently elected trustees, as conversation steered away from items on the agenda and looked ahead to booking future discussions about the potential benefits of consolidating the township.

To emphasize his point, Anderson asked Adams to recite the three mandated services of a township: the assessment of properties, the maintenance of roads and bridges, and general public assistance.

Afterward, Anderson pointed to specific expenditures and services offered within the township that he deemed were outside those three areas, including the township’s annual membership fees – about $1,000 a year – for the Township Officials of Illinois.

Another service Anderson brought into question was the township’s emergency assistance services, charging that its purpose exists outside the township’s three mandated services to taxpayers.

Anderson also asked that the independent study and other items be added to the agenda for future meetings for further examination.

“You have the right to look into it, but some people that receive emergency services actually starve if it wasn’t for the township, that I promise you,” Adams said. “There would be nowhere else for them to go.”

James Cordon, the township’s highway commissioner, clashed with Anderson several times throughout the night and took particular issue with Anderson repeating the figure that Illinois has nearly 7,000 local government bodies.

Specifically, Cordon said Anderson was “throwing that number out there” without providing people with enough context to understand it, including the dormant taxing bodies counted in the 7,000. He also added that Illinois’ stockpile of governments should be compared with other states when assessing consolidation.

“Unfortunately, you’ve taken the position of, ‘This is what I think and this is the way it is,’ ” Condon said. “And for some reason, you can’t get away from that as opposed to working together and seeing if consolidation really does save money. And if it does, anybody here would be the first to sign on.”

After the meeting, Anderson said he expected pushback from other trustees against consolidation when he was elected to the township board; however, he stood by his arguments, citing his desire to better understand the effect of consolidations or eliminations on taxpayers.

Anderson also acknowledged that change would be slow to come on things he and other newly elected conservative trustees had promised, but he said that examining how township money is being spent will help determine over the next yearly cycle how best to adjust the township.

“The first words I said at my first board meeting here was this board was elected for tax revolt and township consolidation or elimination,” Anderson said. “Eventually, I want to see something put on the ballot to see if we’re going to keep it.”

Trustees on Thursday also unanimously approved converting the lighting in the township’s recreation center building to LED lighting using a grant reimbursement.

The township underwent LED lighting conversion at its main office after trustees approved the building’s conversion at its July 13 meeting. Adams said the conversion, which saves the township thousands of dollars over multiple years, took place over three days and did not interrupt work in the township offices.

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