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McHenry Township electors call meeting to challenge consolidation slate

McHenry Township Trustee Bob Anderson listens as Supervisor Craig Adams talks during a special meeting Aug. 23 at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.
McHenry Township Trustee Bob Anderson listens as Supervisor Craig Adams talks during a special meeting Aug. 23 at McHenry Township Hall in Johnsburg.

A special meeting has been called in McHenry Township.

But it wasn’t township officials who arranged it.

A group of more than 15 McHenry Township voters have signed a petition calling for a meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at McHenry Township Hall, 3703 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg.

On the meeting’s agenda is a return to two matters that stirred up recent controversy among trustees and voters: the cutting of public officials’ salaries and a referendum question on the November ballot that gives voters the power to dissolve the road district.

Highway Commissioner Jim Condon said the results of the special meeting will be symbolic – elector votes are not binding – showing the future voters want to see take shape.

“They’re going to have a vote to reinforce what they’ve already said,” Condon said.

Condon was referring to the township’s annual meeting in April, when a group of residents was given a chance 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 taxes.

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 “no.”

In May, trustees voted to lower the pay for the supervisor, highway commissioner, assessor and clerk, which will take effect in 2021.

New business on the special meeting agenda includes a request to restore those salaries and remove the referendum from the ballot.

The referendum is the heart of a lawsuit more than 30 McHenry Township residents filed against the township board this week seeking to take the question off the ballot.

The lawsuit to collapse the ballot question will fail, Anderson said, because House Bill 607 – the law giving voters the power to consolidate – does not require a cost study.

“If a judge would rule on the side of township government, that would be devastating to anyone with any confidence in our justice system,” Anderson said.

Adams could not be reached for comment.

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