The citizens who petitioned to put questions, including one asking for a $1 million tax rebate, on the agenda of the Dorr Township meeting next Tuesday evening are disturbed that the three questions will not be voted upon separately.
The township meeting will be held at the Woodstock High School just west of the back of city hall on South Street. It will start at 7 PM.
Proponents of the $1 million tax break have issued the following:
On Friday, April 9, four Dorr residents met with Mark Saladin, Dorr Township attorney, to discuss the ballot drafted by the Supervisor, and voting protocols for the meeting on April 13th.
I. The ballot. I had been asking for a sample ballot since March 10, finally
received it from Mark Saladinʼs office late on Thursday, April 8.
We were surprised to see that the ballot combines all three questions, directing the Board to rebate not less than one million dollars, provide more office space at the town hall for the assessor, and correct environmental and other code problems at the town garage.
The former members of the Citizens Planning Committee [CPC] intended to give
electors a yes or no vote on three separate questions. This all or nothing
ballot takes away those choices. What we were told:
A. Our March 1 request had these questions in one paragraph, so this canʼt be changed.
We explained that the questions had been condensed into one paragraph for the purpose of the Township Board March 9 agenda. I had provided Mark with a draft of how these separate questions should appear on a single ballot, or on three ballots.
B. The township code doesnʼt give electors the authority to request a rebate. What authority are we using?
The majority of electors voting at the 2008 and 2009 annual meetings had rejected using the accumulated funds for new land and new buildings. The Citizens Planning Committee had made findings of fact demonstrating no need for new buildings.
Because the Board has persisted in planning to use these funds for new buildings — contrary to electorsʼ past directions & CPC findings of fact — under the general powers that electors can exercise at an annual meeting, we were asking electors to approve dispersing the $2.75 million as a partial rebate and to address the two problems the CPC had identified.
We were told that the 2008 and 2009 questions were different, because they were about certain properties. That the accumulation of money in a capital fund is “legal.”
We wondered why, when the Board is working with architects to build a new town garage, possibly a hall, these questions are not on the April 13th agenda, when a large number of electors are present.
We were told the Board is still “planning.”
C. If the Code allowed electors to petition for rebates, then they could “bankrupt” the township.
We reminded him that we had specified a rebate of “unrestricted” funds — leaving untouched monies for General Assistance, Roads, Assessor. Our focus is the $2.75 million we had been repeatedly told is available for buying land and new buildings.
II. Mark told us that if we tried to make the argument (italicized above) before any McHenry County judge, it would be rejected. However if we kept the rebate question combined with the two others, it would be all right.
How could it not be a legitimate exercise of electorsʼ powers if asked separately, but fine if combined with two other questions?
Because, we were told, they all relate to property.
We asked if this were not the intention in keeping the questions combined: now that one million dollars has been removed from the 2010-2011 budget for land/building acquisition, even if electors approve a rebate, by being forced to also approve questions 2 and 3, once that work is carried out, will we then be told there is no money to rebate?
We were told that Bob Pierce [Dorr Township Supervisor] had said that he “would be willing to rebate something.”
We had never heard this in any public meeting — and we attend all publicly noticed town board meetings. And what does this say about how this local government works, as some kind of sovereign power?
III. Why did the township hire a court reporter for the 13th?
To ensure that only one person speaks at a time.
But that is the Moderatorʼs job.
IV. Does the township expect to be sued?
We were told that “the provision is ambiguous.”
Uncertain what this “provision” is, but assume it goes to what powers the electors, as “corporate authorities,” have re rebating taxes.
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You can read more about this controversy here.