Searching for the Motivation for the Township Consolidation Push

This is not the first time that I have wondered why folks are putting so much effort into getting township consolidation referendums on the ballot.

In this proposal, Grafton would be merged with Algonquin Township creating a mega-township with 142,000 people,

In this proposal, Grafton would be merged with Algonquin Township creating a mega-township with 142,000 people, The four townships in the southeaster part of the County would be merged.  An effort to merge elementary school districts in the Marengo area succeeded, except for Riley’s Grade School District, whose voters decided to remain independent.  The suggestion of merging Greenwood with McHenry Township forgets that Greenwood people are east of Wonder Lake and in the Woodstock School District.  They are not oriented toward McHenry.  If Dunham merged with Chemung, Chemung would dominate it.  Because of its larger population, Hartland Township would dominate Alden.  Nunda is split between Crystal Lake and McHenry.  There is no easy way for east-west traffic.  Nunda residents do not identify with Woodstock, shopping in either Crystal Lake or McHenry.  Richmond and Burton Township have approximately the same population, but both are twice the size of Hebron.  Richmond and Burton do share high and elementary schools.  Merged, the two townships would have about the same geography as McHenry, Nunda and Algonquin Townships

It seems to me that none of the smaller townships will end up with majorities that will agree to merge their township with a neighboring township that is larger.

Maybe some will vote to merge with a similar-sized township, but I doubt it.

Here are statistics provided by the township consolidation proponents that relate to the map above.

Here are statistics provided by the township consolidation proponents that relate to the map above.

After reading the only two letters in the Northwest Herald on Friday and letting that percolate for a day or so, I came up with a possible motivation for the consolidation movement.

One letter was from Gregory Walker of Lake in the Hills.

It attacks the Bob Miller family for income received from Algonquin Township, plus quotes township consolidation leader Mike Shorten’s claim that $40 million could be saved over ten years.

It also notes Coral Township Supervisor Roger Naylor’s accurate complaint that no cost-benefit study has been performed.

The second map presented by the consolidation proponents leaves Algonquin Township as is.

The second map presented by the consolidation proponents leaves Algonquin Township as is.  Coral would be merged with Grafton.  Coral has 3,500 people, while Grafton is the second largest populated township in McHenry County with 53,000 folks. Riley, Marengo and Seneca would be consolidated.  Seneca is split between those close to Woodstock and those nearer Marengo.  Riley, as noted above, refused to join with Coral and Marengo in elementary school consolidation.  The Riley Township Board has already passed a resolution opposing consolidation.  Again merging Nunda and Dorr is suggested.  See comment under the first map for the lack of commonality of the three population centers–Crystal Lake, McHenry and Woodstock.  The same comments above apply to merging Greenwood with McHenry Township and putting Hebron, Richmond and Burton together.

The irony of Mr. Walker’s letter is that Algonquin Township is the largest township in McHenry County and unlikely to be merged with another.

Twp consolidation stats for map 2

Here are the statistics provided by township consolidation proponents for the second map.

The second letter takes a similar theme.

Judi Szilak

Judi Szilak

The NWH has headlined it, “The family business.”

By Judi Szilak, who spoke about the abuses of patronage in McHenry County when she spoke to the County’s Township Consolidation Task Force, buy did not mention the Millers to the best of my recollection, attacks “cronyism and nepotism.”

As at the meeting, she attacked the new County Clerk for hiring her husband and the new County Sheriff for hiring people from outside of McHenry County.

She also takes a whack at those attending the Task Force meeting.

It “was full of friends and family with generations of family officeholders,” she wrote.

So what did these letters bring to mind.

If the consolidation referendums are going to fail, why hold them?

I think it is to provide nine months of negative publicity for township government with the ultimate goal of convincing a required 75% of the McHenry County electorate to vote to abolish township government in some future election.

Why else would politically savvy people be spending their time getting referendums on the ballot which have so close to zero a chance of resulting in merger of any townships?

Please share your thoughts on the motivation of those pushing the idea of township consolidation.

Remember for consolidation to take place approval of each of the townships to be merged is required.

So far no resident of one of the rural townships has spoken up in favor of merging with a neighboring township.

The only resident to speak from that part of the county was Pat Kennedy of Dunham Township.

She expressed satisfaction with the way her township was run.


Searching for the Motivation for the Township Consolidation Push — 28 Comments

  1. It is with great sadness that we are, once again, being subjected to this temper tantrum by a few folks with too much time one their hands.

    First and foremost, I strongly disapprove of a county board that would legitimize a grossly flawed document presented by promoters of the township consolidation referendum.

    Secondly, that a county board would spend penny one of tax dollars to make the case for those promoters of the referendum… is beyond dumbfounding.

    IF… the residents of any townships, villages or municipality choose to take such action, I say go for it.

    But, let it be their choice/action.

    To have people who have no idea how the folks in these entities may choose to change their boundaries is a matter for them, and them alone, to decide.

    To those suggesting family members should not be hired by people they have elected to office I say, change this at the ballot box.

    When voters do not choose to make these changes, in nearly all instances they are saying they’re satisfied with the way their township/village/municipality is being run.

    If township foes are so hell bent on reducing government, turn your energies to your school districts.

    It is long past the time these “houses” need cleaning.

    Your tax bills are all that should encourage this action.

    Every time the township issue is brought up, by the same people, there is a cost to those who represent their local constituent’s.
    This need not be seen as defending elected positions but as protecting their residents.

    What is most disappointing is that this band of people, promoters of township consolidation, along with county board members, think they can dictate their neighbors future.

    There are far more important issues to be addressed!

  2. I’ll take a crack at possible motivations.

    -They legitimately believe it will save money.

    -They oppose townships and this is a way for them to express their angst.

    -Similarly to the previous point, they are angsty about government in general. They look at how many units of government we have and see this as a way to reduce that number.

    -Political ambitions/point scoring. They want their names attached to something that is politically popular.

  3. This is a Bob Anderson plan.

    I told him this will not go well, the people in Alden and Hebron would like too join.

    The people in Hebron don’t want to be with Richmond.

    The school district is Alden Hebron the fire district is Hebron Alden Greenwood.

    A lot of family’s are in Alden Hebron.

    The distance between Alden and Hebron is closer than Hebron Richmond.

    I will not support a plan too join Hebron with Richmond.

  4. We need some government, how much will be debated till the end of the earth.

    As tax payers we must take away some of the power/decision making away from our elected officials, spending and setting tax rates.

    These two issues were a problem that were never addressed properly when the Constitution was written, but should have been, but the partisan nonsense started already way back then of over spending and borrowing to buy votes.

    Spending must always match actual revenue available at the time, ie what we are willing to give in the form of taxation.

    Borrowing should only be allowed for World Wars, not police actions like we’ve had since 1945.

    Even weather disasters should be budgeted for, they’re regular enough, and we should be able to budget for them to some degree.

    Individual Income tax rates and Property tax rates should not be roller coasters of ever changing rates that just leads to insecurity for the tax payer not knowing what is coming next from the elected to buy votes.

    The class warfare thing must be put in the grave; it’s just dividing the country more and could lead to more and more divisive actions in the future.

    We all need skin in the game, and it should be equal skin.

    I would propose we force our elected by Petition, which is allowed in the constitution, to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment that has the income tax rate and/or property tax rate control tied to it.

    The Congress, State, and Local gov agencies will only be allowed to adjust the income or property tax rates after a 2/3 approval vote within its legal boundary, ¾ vote would be better.

    Our choice with a strong majority vote behind changes, not the Pacs controlling the partisan as the wind blows hacks.

    I’d prefer a Flat income tax with no deductions at least till we start paying off the debt in a manner that has a time limit attached to it.

    Gov agencies that use Property taxes should have no levy power, whatever the home value up or down; the rate we voted on determines what is paid in taxes.

    Not enough as most elected seem to keep saying, then come to us with your yearly recommendations and let us vote 2/3 for any change from the year before.

    No more passing on our debt to future generations should be allowed.

    We borrow almost 40% for the Fed Gov now that must stop ASAP. To not propel the economy into the dumpster any farther, we should demand freezing the spending at the 2014 rates or a small cost of living, every year till spending is lower than actual revenue.

    We can budget a pay back of the added debt which will be pushing 20T by then. Yawn.

    I listening for other suggestions, got one?

  5. IMO, it’s one group trying to grab power from the other, not much else.

  6. The Nob –

    _ Well said.

    But for any of that to work, we need to get the voters to vote!

    Which most don’t!

  7. Local government should be consolidated into geographic units, with the boundaries being the current High School Districts, as that is the major public service with which a community identifies.

    One consolidated school district, one road and public works district, one general government district, and one public safety district inside the boundary.

    And the elections should co-incide with the even year State elections to maximize turnouts and end the ridiculous system of low turnout off year elections.

  8. Charles if what you say can be proven to save $$$$$$ fine,but historically bigger the gov agencies higher the costs.

    Prove that wrong and I’ll vote for it.

  9. We will get lower taxes when we elect people who are not beholden to the government employees.

    Governmental units exit to serve the employees of those units, and the decisions are made in low turnout elections where interest groups can exert maximum influence.

  10. The problem is we keep asking government to do more for us, so they keep raising taxes to pay for it. T

    hen the process started over again.

    We’ll never see lower taxes, but we can halt it’s growth by taking the ability to raise taxes without our consent.

    Lawyers and legal boundaries are part of the reason we have many units of gov, but only cutting services will save us any $$$$.


  11. Maybe the townships should strike back and propose county consolidation.

    Just kidding.

  12. Ersel: There are very few opportunities for the voters to directly decide issues pertaining to government in Illinois.

    Witness the fact that two attempts to propose a term limit referendum were stricken by the courts.

    All this effort is doing is trying to give the voters a chance to make a decision without having to go through elected representatives.

    It is direct democracy vs. representative democracy.

    What’s wrong with having that once and a while?

    In terms of making changes via the ballot box, that sounds good in theory but bear in mind that when it comes to township elections, where the party primaries are held on the fourth Tuesday of an odd numbered year once every four years, it is very difficult for the average voter to figure out when the election is even being held.

    During the last one, held in 2013, the very hotly contested primary in Grafton township drew only 2023 voters out of 33,120 registered voters.

    Dorr Township had 183 out of 14,077.

    Nunda Township, also a big contest, had 2506 out of 26,427.

    In Algonquin, where there was also a very contested election for several township positions featuring well known names, drew 1443 out of 57,903 in the Supervisor’s race.

    One large precinct, AL 59, which had 1223 registered voters had only ONE PERSON show up to vote!

    Overall turnout in all of the townships which had primaries was 6155 out of 131,527, of 4.68%.

    In most situations (the assessor race in McHenry Township being the only exception I can ever remember), the GOP primary was determinative of the final outcome.

    Obviously, this system is not working…. except maybe for a few.

  13. Cal: Can you please add the salary of the Highway Commissioners office to that chart.

    That is where the real story is.

    I still can not find an argument that justifies having a Township supervisor.

    They give out the general assistance- how does that cost?

    What is the salary versus the amount awarded?

    ANd why is there a general assistance fund?

  14. Am I missing something, or is the voter’s decision made by simply looking at the comparative tax rates of townships at issue?

    It seems to me that the lower tax rate township citizens will immediately begin subsidizing the higher tax rate township.

    If savings accrue through consolidation, the lower tax rate township will have to see the combined township tax rate lower than their current tax rate in order to benefit.

    Using the data from the table above, I ran comparisons of 4 proposed township marriages.

    ( even if data from table is incomplete or inaccurate, the procedure of comparison is easy: divide revenues ( extension) by eav.

    Doing that separately for each township then using totals ( total revenues divided by total eav):

    1. Algonquin/Grafton.
    Algonquin rate: .002408172
    Grafton rate: .001953461
    Combined rate ( total revenues /total Eav) : .002242668

    ( Algonquin taxpayer win, Grafton taxpayers lose)
    ( savings from consolidation would need to get total rate down to,or below Graftons original tax rate of .001953461)

    2. McHenry/Nunda
    McHenry rate: .00557327
    Nunda rate: .004699327
    Total rate: .005130769

    3. Dorr/Greenwood
    Dorr rate: .003796336
    Greenwood rate: .006401209
    Total rate: .004643521

    4. Chemung/Dunham
    Chemung rate: .007246997
    Dunham rate: .009981699
    Total rate: .008281001

    So in every case of consolidation, there is one township jumping in tax rate while the other township drops in tax rate.

    Why would any of the lower tax rate township voters want to vote for this?

  15. The chart isn’t mine.

    It was developed by the proponents of township consolidation.

    If, per chance, they read your comments, perhaps they will gather and release the information.

  16. Inish: To answer your question about the Supervisor, by original statute, the township supervisor had basically 4 functions.

    (1) Distribute public aid. This was in the days before there were any other assistance programs or even insurance. If farmer Jones got run over by the team, the Widow Jones could apply for assistance from the township to hire someone to help with the crops that year. Now people go to the township just for a bit of cash to tide them over until their public aid applications are processed. I see no reason why the IDPA couldn’t do this as part of their procedures.

    (2) Supervise township cemeteries. Originally, people buried their kinfolk in the back yard (see the movie Shenandoah with James Stewart). Then we had the innovative development of having township cemeteries, and those people who were buried on the farms got moved to those cemeteries, as well as new ones being buried there. (I found my great great grandma’s headstone under the woodpile playing on the farm as a kid). This kept the supervisors busy for a while. Now we have private cemeteries and very few people are still buried in township plots.

    (3) Serve as treasurer for the road commissioner. I am not sure why it is done this way but I suspect that many road commissioners in the 19th century may not have been so good with the 3 R’s. The Supervisor does not do the same for the assessors. Today we could either trust the road guys to do this themselves and review their books like we do with everyone else, or maybe use an outside payroll service.

    (4) Chair meetings of the township boards. In a typical month these meetings last less than a half hour. Again, if there is no township government, there is no township board and no meetings.

    One of the prior township supervisors in Algonquin, our largest township with the largest supervisor’s salary, used to live in Florida for five months out of the year.

    He would come back on the Friday before the monthly meeting and leave on the Wednesday morning after.

    During the rest of the year he would work half days.

    Since that time the supervisors have been given a number of other things they can choose to do such as senior bus programs, Easter egg hunts, food pantries, etc. but originally the above 4 items were it.

    In a typical year, Nunda does around two dozen interim public aid applications.

    Grafton did around 17.

    Each application takes maybe an hour or less of the Supervisor’s time (bear in mind that in the larger townships such as these there is also a staff person).

    I think the Supervisor in Nunda makes around $60K and the staffer makes a similar amount.

    That’s $120K to process 24 applications or $5000 each to distribute around $500 if that’s all you look at.

    Hope that answers your questions.

    Now one of the present or former township supervisors will chime in, either using their real name or a screen name to hide behind.

  17. Mike W.

    You keep waltzing away from the real issue of how to actually control taxes. Address my long rants above please.

    I will agree that the Supervisors end needs modification, but the Assessor and Road districts not so much, other than what my rant explained.

    Moving the election dates wpuld help for turn out even with school districts.

    Biggest turn out has always been when school ask to raise taxes at least locally.

    Give up you power to raise the levy Mike, show us you really care, and aren’t just party to the under lying power play which this is really all about.

  18. Nob (whatever your real name is):

    I have voted against the levy each and every year that I have been on the County Board and will continue to do so until the economy is back to pre-2008 levels in all respects.

    I don’t think you can abolish that power legally, at least not at our level, nor would you want to as we could return to double digit inflation rates, and would not be able to perform even the most basic county services if we couldn’t raise the levy. (Watch Cal complain about potholes in the courthouse parking lot then!).

    My solution to the townships would be to allow voters in each township to have a vote on whether or not they wish that township to continue.

    This should be able to be put on the ballot easily, and not require a huge petition drive (possible by majority vote at the annual township meeting).

    There needs to be state statutory action taken to enable this.

    Also any effect this might have on the county board needs to be addressed by legislation to avoid the argument that we would have to go to a three person Board of Supervisors.

    If abolished, the County would take over the road functions and the assessments in that township or townships.

    We might want to have a directly elected County Assessor as they have in Cook, who could do those assessments, but that would require legislative action. We have an appointed Assessor now.

    If the county road department were in charge of township roads in areas where they were mostly absorbed by municipalities, it would be in the county’s interest to develop intergovernmental agreements to improve efficiency.

    It is not in the interests of a township road district, which is trying to justify it’s existence and maintain it’s power base and work force to do that.

    Cemeteries in that township would be taken over by the County.

    I am liason to the Valley High Cemetery Board which does the county burials (not just people who had been at the nursing home) and we have not had a single one in the past five years. We have just voted to go from two meetings a year to one.

    How this would actually affect taxes would require a study which has not been done.

    A study done in Cook County concluded that there would be a 50% savings there if townships were eliminated.

    It should be mentioned that Cook County does not use township assessors.

    I don’t know if that affects that figure or not.

    On the elections, it is worse than I laid out as individual township party caucuses can pick all of the candidates without even holding a primary election.

    These discussions are seriously entertained at various times in different townships, especially when the current township officers are not in sync with the local committeemen.

    This then abolishes any semblance of democracy as the GOP candidates will usually handily win the general election (also poorly attended).

    The smaller population townships have for the most part not gone to this and their elections are non partisan and coincide with municipal and school board contests.

  19. Perhaps Ersel and Mike Walkup should just talk on the phone and not in blog comment.

  20. who much is this election going to cost the tax payer?

    when it goes on march 14 ballot?

    it wont pass.

  21. Mike, Nob is my nick name, if I see you at any meeting I’ll introduce myself.

    With cyber stalking I’m not in a hurry to put my name out in public.

    Thank you for voting for flat levy’s, but them you go on and say I still want the power in case levy’s need to be raise because of inflation.

    OK I see the need, justify that need with numbers and facts and then let us vote on it.

    Sorry but history shows we can’t trust elected to always do what the voters want day in and day out.

    Self serving politicians causes many a levy increase, and you know that.

    Elections aren’t cheap, but the costs my be worth it to keep you all working for us instead of yourselves.

    School boards, with all the yes people are the worst over all IMO.

    I could pick apart all your comments about other gov agencies taking over Twh work, but I don’t have to because the Villages and County don’t want that work.

    The Villages or Cities will not Inter anything unless they annex the property in so they have total control, and that means they have to raise their levy just like Evanston did.

    No savings with bigger gov agencies, no one has defeated that historic fact yet.

    I hear centralization of work force in your comments, that’s not working well for the county now is it?

    Nope McDot want another garage because it would, wait for it, help create better service.


    Why are you and the rest of the anti Twh people in such a hurry for a vote when the issue hasn’t been properly explored yet?

    I see no advantage to this crusade as far as taxes are concerned, and your side hasn’t proved me wrong yet.

    Do that first, them lets vote when the facts are out.

    April is to soon and low turn out is a problem.

    Fall 2016 would be better over all.

    Don’t be disingenuous Mike, give up some power and let us all vote on levy and tax changes.

    Of course that would take state and fed law changes.

  22. Mike, link me to where I can read about your legislative attempts to stop nepotism and patronage pleases.

    After all the hoopla and your long speech at the board meeting surely you’ve advanced that cause, right?

  23. Nob:

    Due to the budget impasse nothing was able to be advanced on that front in Springfield I am told but there are plans for someone do try to introduce something next session.

    Rome was not built in a day.

  24. Mike Walkup: What info do you have for the following statement:

    “The Supervisor does not do the same for the assessors.”

  25. No Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it wouldn’t be built in our life time either if you just talk about it and never do anything about it.

    Maybe you could try to get a resolution from the county board addressed to the state that makes suggestions on how to correct those two problems?

    So far I see nothing locally, that should change or nothing will happen.


  26. For all the questions about the supervisors job, he is actually the chief financial officer of the township.

    He is responsible for all the tax levies recording all the income and expenses and providing all the reports reports that are necessary to be filed both of the county in the state.

    And he is also responsible for the general assistance, and conducting the meetings on a monthly basis.

    In the smaller townships the supervisor does all these jobs there are no staff’s most of them are just single person offices.

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