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McHenry Township residents file lawsuit against board

Measure seeks removal of consolidation question from November ballot

McHenry Township Supervisor Craig Adams calls on members of the public to share comments during a special meeting to appoint Steve Verr to fill the vacant position left by former Trustee Bill Cunningham on Aug. 23 at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.
McHenry Township Supervisor Craig Adams calls on members of the public to share comments during a special meeting to appoint Steve Verr to fill the vacant position left by former Trustee Bill Cunningham on Aug. 23 at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.

A lawsuit on behalf of more than 30 McHenry Township residents has been filed in McHenry County Circuit Court, alleging the township board did not follow the directions of electors who voted, 76-0, at the government’s annual meeting to request that a cost study be done to determine whether consolidation would save taxpayers money.

“They’re actively doing everything they can to steamroll ahead,” said Genna Hibbs, the Woodstock attorney who filed the lawsuit Tuesday. “We’re not seeing any picture or any forethought or any of the realities of how we’re going to provide these services at this level or a similar level if we dissolve the road district.”

A group of residents was given the chance at April’s annual meeting to directly address trustees about how to manage the township. They voted, 76-0, on a request calling for a cost study to see what effect consolidation would have on the pocketbooks of taxpayers.

An Illinois law that took effect Jan. 1, however, allows township trustees to ask voters whether they want the road district abolished and its responsibilities given to the township supervisor. At a special meeting in February, Trustees Mike Rakestraw, Bob Anderson and Bill Cunningham voted to include the referendum on the November ballot. Trustee Stan Wojewski and Supervisor Craig Adams voted against it. The plaintiffs said the board ignored residents’ vote in favor of conducting a cost study to determine whether abolishing the road district would save taxpayers money.

The lawsuit asks the court for relief, requesting several actions, including:

• Removing the consolidation question from the November ballot

• Directing the board to conduct a cost study and requiring the township to share the results of the study with taxpayers at least 90 days before passing a resolution that would put a consolidation question on the ballot

• Removing Trustee Steve Verr from his appointed seat and directing the board to pick a new trustee based on a public interview and the votes of electors. (Verr was appointed to office this month after a process that drew criticism within the community).

“It’s really frustrating to me that citizens have to go out of their way to hire an attorney to get government officials to do what they should already be doing,” Hibbs said.

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