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State Rep. David McSweeney's bill could give townships power to push elimination referendum

Measure approved in Springfield committee

A proposed bill sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney that could give township boards in McHenry County the power to put a consolidation referendum on an election ballot with a majority vote passed committee Monday in Springfield and now will go to the House floor.
A proposed bill sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney that could give township boards in McHenry County the power to put a consolidation referendum on an election ballot with a majority vote passed committee Monday in Springfield and now will go to the House floor.

A proposed bill sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney that could give township boards in McHenry County the power to put a consolidation referendum on an election ballot with a majority vote passed committee Monday in Springfield and now will go to the House floor.

The Barrington Hills Republican said House Bill 4637 would make the path to consolidation easier.

“Right now it’s next to impossible to eliminate a township,” McSweeney said. “This gives the authority to the township board and to voters to eliminate what I believe and many others believe is an unnecessary form of government. This provides a very realistic way of doing it.” 

HB 4637 is an amended version of HB 4244, co-sponsored by state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake – the state representative who chairs the consolidation committee in Springfield – and state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee.

The new bill adds three provisions. One gives township boards the power to put a referendum on the ballot with a majority vote.

Another includes a built-in 10 percent reduction in property taxes on both the township and the road district. That means if voters choose to eliminate the township at the polls, the property tax levies of the township and road district would transfer to McHenry County officials at 90 percent.

The third provision would have an effect on one McHenry County township with no vote at all.

The bill would eliminate the road district of any township responsible for less than 15 road miles.

If signed into law, HB 4637 would allow voters to force a referendum onto an election ballot with a petition signed by 5 percent of voters from a previous comparable election. For example, if 5,000 people voted in Algonquin Township in the last election, a petition carrying 250 signatures would put a question on the ballot asking voters whether they want to eliminate the township.

If 50 percent of voters support elimination at the polls, the township would be dissolved within 90 days after the election. All property, personnel, contractual obligations and liabilities inside the township then would transfer to McHenry County.

A provision in the bill allows municipalities to make bids to assume the responsibilities of the dissolving township and its road district. If no municipality makes an offer, those powers and duties are retained by McHenry County.

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