The McHenry Township Board on Thursday agreed to move forward on a possible study related to the financial impact of township elimination.
The board met to discuss a host of agenda items including the possible hiring of Virginia-based Urban Analytics Inc. to complete a cost study analysis on the subject before the March primary, when voters will have a chance to decide whether McHenry Township and its road district should be eliminated and all of its assets and responsibilities transferred to McHenry County through a binding referendum question.
Some have questioned whether the move will actually save taxpayers money. Township officials issued a request for proposal in search of an agency that could complete a study to answer that question, but only one agency responded. Urban Analytics Inc. would charge the township up to $50,000 to complete the study, according to its proposal.
The board on Thursday didn’t award the bid but agreed to move forward with interviews with company representatives. A committee of Trustees Bob Anderson and Steve Verr now plans to interview Urban Analytics representatives. The board as a whole still would have to approve a contract.
“I think we need to move forward,” Anderson said. “There is no time to waste here.”
A committee made up of Supervisor Craig Adams; 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, has been addressing the issue and set a deadline of Feb. 21 for the completion of the study.
Adams had inquired with six schools 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 others didn’t respond, Adams has said.
The committee recommended that the board not move forward with Urban Analytics Inc.
A group of pro-township activists, including Macrito, petitioned to put the question on the March ballot. Anderson and Trustee Mike Rakestraw both requested that Macrito withdraw the referendum petition until a study can be completed ahead of the November presidential election with little luck.
“We have plenty of time to get the best choice out there,” Rakestraw said. “I don’t see why everyone has to be stuck in the mud.”
Township supporters said that voters in primary elections tend to be more informed about local issues, which is why there was a push for March.
“We aren’t going to withdraw the petition,” Macrito said. “I am for a study, but not that study.”
Anderson, Rakestraw and Verr voted to move forward with an interview of Urban Analytics representatives. Trustee Stan Wojewski voted against the item because he said it was too costly. Adams was absent.
“It’s outrageous,” Wojewski said. “We don’t know anything about these people. Six universities said there wasn’t enough time. Let the people decide, and it won’t cost anything.”