Voters in McHenry Township may not have a chance to gauge the financial impact of township elimination before the next election.
As the March primary approaches, township officials are trying to determine whether to move forward with a cost study analysis related to the potential elimination of the township and its road district.
Residents will have a chance to vote on whether the township and road district should be abolished, and all of their assets and responsibilities be transferred to McHenry County, through a binding referendum question in March.
Some question whether property tax bills actually would decrease if the elimination were to move forward, so members of a McHenry Township committee want to hire an independent agency to complete the study.
It issued a request for proposal Oct. 28, but only one agency responded.
The committee – aptly named the McHenry Township Cost Study Analysis Committee – is composed of Supervisor Craig Adams; Trustee Bob Anderson, who has been fighting to abolish townships for decades; Highway Commissioner Jim Condon; and John Macrito, a township resident and activist who has been fighting to save the township and its services.
Adams had inquired with six colleges and universities about doing the study: the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, the University of Michigan and the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Representatives from the University of Illinois at Chicago and La Follette said they could not complete the study within the requested timeline.
The other organizations did not respond, Adams said.
Committee members wanted the study completed by Feb. 21.
One agency, Urban Analytics Inc., responded with interest in completing the study, although Adams noted he didn’t know how the Virginia-based company had come across the request. Urban Analytics said it could complete the study for $49,155.
The cost of the actual study would be $46,580, with the remainder of the fees coming from expenses such as taxi rides, airfare, meals and hotel stays, according to the proposal.
Condon said he wouldn’t support hiring Urban Analytics, and the road district wouldn’t pay for any portion of the study if the township board decides to move forward with the agency.
“I don’t know that they are the right people to do this study,” Condon said. “For starters, it’s pretty darn expensive at $50,000. Secondly, the experience they reference is more about annexing properties from counties into municipalities. I don’t think they have done a study like we are talking about here.”
Macrito and Adams agreed that the agency wasn’t best for the task, and they would rather wait until after residents have voted if a different organization could not complete the study before the election.
If voters decide to eliminate the township, the study would be a moot point. If voters elect to keep the township, authorities would have more than two years to complete a study before the question could be put back on the ballot.
“We aren’t saying no to the study,” Macrito said. “We are just saying let’s not rush through the process.”
The committee voted to recommend not to proceed with Urban Analytics Inc. Condon, Macrito and Adams voted to affirm that negative recommendation. Anderson voted against the recommendation.
The McHenry Township board will decide whether to hire Urban Analytics for the study. The board is expected to consider the item at its meeting Thursday.