The Algonquin Township Highway Department no longer will manage and participate in several community services it had organized and carried out for many years.
“It is very disappointing it has come to this,” Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser wrote in an Aug. 3 email addressed to Supervisor Charles Lutzow and sent to township trustees and highway department staff.
The subject of the email was “Lack of IGA,” or intergovernmental agreement.
“Effective immediately, the Algonquin Township Highway Department will no longer be participating in the following functions ...”
Gasser offered this list:
• Bingo setup – this is a township function and not a highway department function.
• Emptying recycling dumpsters – the recycling program is a township function that we can no longer participate in.
• No prework premises inspection (walkabout) – this is township property that should be cleaned up by the township and not the highway department.
• No township mowing or watering on township property – this is a township responsibility.
• No building maintenance/trash collection – this is a township responsibility.
• No scheduling of new bus rides after Aug. 17, 2018 – this is a township function.
• No maintenance of township buses – this is a township responsibility.
• No fuel for the township buses – this is a township responsibility.
• No longer paying the salaries of bus drivers – this is a township responsibility.
Gasser could not be reached for comment.
In a preface to the list of functions the department no longer will participate in, Gasser details discussions he allegedly had with Lutzow about allowing Deputy Highway Commissioner Ryan Provenzano to access the township’s main building.
“The highway department had been more than lenient with work arrangements for the deputy highway commissioner,” Gasser wrote. “On no less than four occasions, I have personally approached you for a solution to accessing the highway department offices, with no success.”
Lutzow terminated Provenzano in January and banned him from the premises. The supervisor later rolled back his ban, Lutzow said, to allow Provenzano anywhere on the township property except the main building.
“You have no problem with the deputy entering the building in which you banned him in writing to help set up functions in said building, yet he does not have access to my office,” Gasser wrote. “After eight months of waiting, this is completely unacceptable.”
Gasser followed that with the announcement that the highway department no longer would participate in the listed services.
In the months leading up to Gasser’s email, the township and highway department had several discussions about splitting the costs of recycling and senior bus services, Lutzow said.
The two offices never signed a written agreement, he said.
“I’m surprised we couldn’t come to an agreement. It seemed like everything was heading in the right direction,” Lutzow said. “This is not a good situation.”
The highway department was offering bus service for seniors and disabled residents who needed assistance getting to doctor’s appointments, kidney dialysis treatment and grocery stores. Part-time bus drivers took the residents to these locations between 7 a.m. and
4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“These people are dependent on these services,” Lutzow said.
For years, the Algonquin Township Highway Department has been a recycling center for the residents of McHenry County’s most populous township. On the township property at 3702 Route 14, residents can dump cardboard, cans, glass and other recyclable materials in dumpsters on the property from
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
On the last Saturday of every month between April and October, Algonquin Township Highway Department staff hosted specialized recycling events where residents could discard electronics (TVs and computer monitors), used motor oils, car batteries and old tires.
“That’s something the road district has done for a long, long time,” Lutzow said.
The township has no plan to take over the recycling duties. Recycling will be closed, Lutzow said, until the township and highway department have a chance to come to an agreement.
“They’re open to sitting down to renegotiate,” Lutzow said. “The reason [Gasser’s] saying he can’t do [recycling and busing] is that township code does not allow him to.”
The Illinois Highway Code allows a road district to use money from its fund to pay for all or part of the costs of senior citizen transportation programs or senior citizen mass transit programs, or both.
Roads districts also are allowed to “organize, administer or participate in one or more recycling programs,” according to the code.
At the Algonquin Township board’s monthly meeting Wednesday night, Trustee Rachael Lawrence said she interpreted an implication in Gasser’s email that all services would transfer to the township.
Trustee Melissa Victor summed up Gasser’s severance of services for the township’s “most vulnerable residents” as a “blackmail political game” related to Lutzow’s banning of Provenzano from the building.