Legislation establishing a referendum process for voters to dissolve McHenry County’s 17 townships passed out of the Illinois Senate on Thursday and now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for consideration.
House Bill 348 – which was introduced by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and voted out of the Illinois House last month – also would require the abolishment of road districts in McHenry and Lake counties that maintain fewer than 15 miles of road.
The bill was picked up by Sen. Terry Link, D-Indian Creek, in the Senate and passed by a 44-3 vote. Sens. Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry, and Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, voted in favor of the measure, while Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, voted against it.
Link called the bipartisan measure a positive endeavor to reduce the amount of local government in the state.
Wilcox said in a news release that he supports consolidation as a way to reduce the size of government in our lives, cut costs and deliver better government to the people.
“I appreciate a process that respects taxpayers, giving voters a choice, which this measure does,” Wilcox said. “I am also especially pleased the legislation addresses concerns I raised months ago about protecting taxpayers and ensuring they are the true beneficiaries of smaller, smarter and more efficient government.”
Voters would be allowed to submit a petition of signatures – with signatures of at least 5% of the number of voters in a previous comparable election – requesting a referendum.
Trustees of any township in the county also would be allowed to pass a resolution calling for a referendum asking whether the township should be dissolved under the measure.
The bill also could offer tax cuts to residents of a dissolved township.
Any taxes levied by the county for the township’s area could not exceed more than 90% of the taxes levied by the former township government.
McSweeney introduced similar legislation last session, which passed both houses but was vetoed by Bruce Rauner in one of his last acts as governor.
“Leader Link provided remarkable leadership in passing this important bill in the Senate,” McSweeney said. “This is a major win for taxpayers in McHenry County and Lake County.”