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McHenry Township to hold competing special meetings on Friday night

As the bus service is coming to an end March 31, residents are preparing to save the service for another year.

Don Kinsala asks a question on Sep. 20 during a McHenry Township special electors meeting to determine whether the township should transfer general funds to benefit a senior bus program.
Don Kinsala asks a question on Sep. 20 during a McHenry Township special electors meeting to determine whether the township should transfer general funds to benefit a senior bus program.

McHenry Township voters are calling a special electors meeting Friday to save the senior bus service for another year.

The special meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the McHenry Township Hall, located at 3703 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg, will be run by registered voters in the township.

A special meeting of the board of trustees was also called for 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The purpose of the special electors meeting on Feb. 28, said Save McHenry Township steering council member Sue Rose, is to transfer township general funds to benefit the senior bus service. If the resolution is passed, the service will run until March 31, 2021.

Two items are on the agenda for the 6:30 p.m. meeting. One is to "safeguard township funds from being misused to fund an unmandated township bus service" while the first topic listed is regarding hiring independent legal counsel for the township in opposition of the McHenry and Nunda road district's lawsuit against McHenry County and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

In a unanimous vote, 169 residents voted in September to fund the bus service until March 31 through a special electors meeting. Ahead of the service’s elimination, the Save McHenry Township steering council is spearheading another special electors meeting this Friday to vote to save it one more time.

Township Trustees Bob Anderson, Steve Verr and Mike Rakestraw voted to eliminate the bus service in June 2019, whereas Supervisor Craig Adams and Trustee Stan Wojewski voted to keep it. By March 2021, Rose said, Anderson’s, Verr’s, Rakestraw’s terms will be up.

“I can guarantee you they will be voted out of office. So, that's really what we're trying to do is to just get this through until these guys are gone,” she said.

Illinois law allows voters to direct the supervisor to allocate funding specifically to pay an agency – either for-profit or nonprofit – to provide services for seniors.

Trustees who voted to eliminate the service pointed to high property taxes as a reason to cut the service. It costs $7.68 a property tax bill each year to keep the service running.

“The three trustees who have been going against the will of the people, they disabled the bus service initially by removing the money from the budget and then also preventing the township supervisor from applying for the grants from the county that they apply for every year,” she said.

Trustees also argue that the service is a duplicate program and is too expensive to maintain. The total cost of the program was $237,976 in 2018, which was offset by revenues of $59,242 from things such as grants and rider fares, according to township documents.

The township's senior bus service, Rose said, is not a duplicate program. The Senior Bus Express service allows bus drivers to help seniors from their home and get them to the bus and their destination safely.

“It's a completely different service. It's for someone who is not able to get themselves in and out of their house for themselves. This is a life saving service for them,” she said.

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