Sitting through most of the 1:30 Wednesday hearing on whether McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks will be able to control the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District led me to offer, “Congratulation, Jack,” as he walked down the hall.
The issue was whether to continue the temporary restraining order until the trial date, which was set for Tuesday, September 19th.
The second week of July, Franks, using the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office to represent him, won a Temporary Restraining Order against the Sanitary District’s spending $900,000 to purchase property down Square Barn Road in Kane County. (See “Franks Wins TRO Against LITH Sanitary District.”)
Yesterday, Judge Thomas Meyer shunted aside the political motivations of both Franks and the Sanitary District to concentrate on whether the pencil thin annexation down the road’s right-of-way met the required “contiguous” definition.
Assistant State’s Attorney George Hoffman pointed out that the Sanitary District did not annex any property at the end of the annexation and cited at least one case that supported that requirement.
Sanitary District attorney Derke Price argued that the statute under which it was formed gave more annexation latitude than the districts obtained under the case cited.
“I’m not going to get involved with the background facts..I’m not gong to pay attention to this motive stuff,” he said.
He concluded spending the $900,000 to purchase land at the end of the annexed property on which a pumping station has been discussed for over two years would cause damage to taxpayers before he ruled on the case.
He also found that there was a likelihood that the County would win the suit.
Hoffman suggested a summary judgement would be appropriate.
At stake in the short -run are three $6,000 Trustee slots. So far, Franks has appointed two people, one of whom is a Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman.
In the long-run, Franks seeks bragging rights that he led the fight to abolish a tax district.
Although located in Crystal Lake and Huntley, as well as Lake in the Hills, state law seems to allow the LITH Village Board to call all the shots if consolidation occurs.
The State’s Attorney’s Office sent out the following press release:
McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Petition for A Preliminary Injunction Against the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District Is Granted
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally is pleased to announce attorneys in the Civil Division secured a preliminary injunction preventing the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District from closing on a piece of property in Kane County at a cost in excess of $900,000.
The County pushed for the injunction after this independent taxing district took extraordinary steps to prevent a proposed consolidation aimed at reducing expenses and increasing government efficiency.
This victory is yet another step in the battle to protect McHenry County taxpayers from wasteful government spending.
The County was represented at the hearing by Assistant State’s Attorneys George Hoffman and Jana Blake Dickson.
The matter will now go to trial on September 19th to determine the proper makeup of the District’s Board of Trustees.