In the past year, that’s how much Algonquin Township officials have spent on legal fees.
Now it’s time to shape next year’s budget, and the highway department is stocking its war chest to prepare for more courtroom battles.
Trustees will review and scrutinize the proposed budgets for the township and highway department this month, and they will take a vote on them in May.
The Northwest Herald reviewed those tentative budgets and discovered how much each entity has proposed for legal fees.
The highway department had a $17,164 budget for legal fees at the start fiscal 2018.
By the end of it, it had spent $284,771.
Now the department has proposed budgeting $250,000 for legal fees in fiscal 2019.
Clerk Karen Lukasik entered her new office in May with a legal fees budget of $40,000. After Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser sued her, she spent $84,765 on lawyers.
The clerk’s proposed legal budget stayed at $40,000.
Supervisor Chuck Lutzow’s office started the fiscal year with $250,000 in its legal fund and managed to stay under budget, spending $109,356 on attorney fees.
The supervisor’s legal budget also will stay the same at $250,000.
The mounds of money spent on lawyers has become a sore subject for township officials.
“I anticipate, unfortunately, the continuation of legal bills until this is all settled,” Trustee Rachael Lawrence said.
“One of our biggest expenses was legal fees,” Lutzow said. “Some months, we had more than we’ve had in years.”
The first-term supervisor said many legal fees are unpredictable, but officials are working to extinguish some of the infighting that engulfed Algonquin Township last year
“We’re trying to get a handle on that,” Lutzow said. “We’re hoping to not have as many legal fees.”
For many of the township’s officials, April will mark the first time they’ve built a budget.
“It’s a huge learning curve, and we’re working through it,” Gasser said. “We’re working to make sure we have enough money to cover the roads in 2018.”
Algonquin Township trustees will meet at 7 p.m. April 11 at 3702 Route 14 to discuss the budget.