Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings doesn’t mind sounding like a broken record.
Not when it comes to fighting against state leaders proposing and voting on bills that could lead to the end of townships in Illinois.
The question that keeps playing over in Jennings’ head is a simple one: Why?
“Why is [state Rep.] David McSweeney afraid to perform an independent cost-benefit analysis that will provide realistic information to our voters before they can vote on this issue?” Jennings said. “Why not inform them? Let them know if it’s going to be cost-effective to get rid of townships or not.”
McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, saw a major victory
April 18, when Illinois House representatives approved House Bill 4637 by an 80-22 margin.
The measure now goes to the Illinois Senate. If approved there, McSweeney’s bill will go to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
If passed in the governor’s office, the bill would give township boards in McHenry County the power to put a consolidation referendum on an election ballot with a majority vote.
To McSweeney, the bill is about giving taxpayers the power to choose how they wish to be governed – and taxed.
“Voters will have the ability to make the decision,” McSweeney said. “I trust voters in this overtaxed county of McHenry County to make the right decision.”
HB 4637 is an amended version of HB 4244. 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 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.
All property, personnel, contractual obligations and liabilities inside the township then would transfer to McHenry County.
To Jennings, the solution for high property taxes in McHenry County won’t be found inside township governments. It will be found where most of those property taxes go.
“Everybody talks about it, and nobody addresses it,” Jennings said. “Why isn’t David McSweeney addressing the real problem with our taxes – and that’s school funding and the out-of-control costs for our state?”
School districts are taking 70 percent of local taxes, Jennings said.
“None of our state leaders seem to address that,” he said. “That’s not saying we don’t want good schools or we don’t want to take care of our children, but if our taxes in McHenry County are such a big issue, why is 70 percent of it going to the schools? How are they ignoring that?”