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Legislation seeks to make McHenry County township consolidation law statewide

Illinois State Representatives Dan Ugaste (R-McHenry/Kane County) (left) and Allen Skillicorn (R-McHenry/Kane County) (right) address area residents at a town hall meeting concerning the proposed Illinois graduated income tax Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Lake in the Hills village hall. 
KKoontz – For Shaw Media
Illinois State Representatives Dan Ugaste (R-McHenry/Kane County) (left) and Allen Skillicorn (R-McHenry/Kane County) (right) address area residents at a town hall meeting concerning the proposed Illinois graduated income tax Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Lake in the Hills village hall. KKoontz – For Shaw Media

A bill filed last week by Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, seeks to make the township consolidation options for McHenry County – which were signed into law last year – statewide.

Under the existing law, which was introduced by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, trustees of any township in the county also can pass a resolution calling for a referendum asking for their township's dissolution. Citizens may also add the question to the ballot with at least 250 signatures or the signatures of 5% of the number of voters in a previous comparable election.

If a township is dissolved, its operations, property and employees would be transferred to the county government. 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.

Ugaste, who voted in favor of McSweeney’s bill, said he is not advocating one way or the other for township consolidation but wants to leave it in the hands of Illinois voters.

“I’m just putting it out there so voters have a say in it,” Ugaste said.

McSweeney said Thursday that Ugaste has not discussed the bill with him. Although he would have to take a look at the specific language of the bill, McSweeney said he conceptually favors consolidation.

So far, two of McHenry County's 17 townships have moved forward with consolidation referendums.

A referendum seeking the dissolution of McHenry Township and one seeking the dissolution of Nunda Township in 2037 will appear on the March primary ballot.

However, road district officials from both of these townships challenged the constitutionality of the law in a suit filed Sept. 16 against McHenry County. The claim was that the law violates a section of the Illinois constitution regarding special legislation, which states that the General Assembly shall pass no special or local law when a general law is or can be made applicable.

The lawsuit was dismissed on Dec. 24, but refiled on Jan. 21, with Gov. JB Pritzker and McHenry County named as defendants.

The bill also includes a provision requiring the abolishment of road districts that maintain fewer than 15 miles of road.

As of Thursday, the bill is waiting to be assigned to committee.

According to a draft report from the Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force, the increased consolidation of governmental units was endorsed as a means to reduce government costs, levies and taxes. However, it urged that any consolidation efforts address debts and bond obligations.

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