The calmest meeting of the Algonquin Township Board since new officers were elected occurred Tuesday night.
The big news for the night was the passage of a budget for the Township side (excluding the Road District) that was 5% less than last year.
Last month the Board approved a cut in the Andrew Gasser’s Road District tax levy of 5% [not an abatement that can later be recaptured].
That means the entire Algonquin Township tax take will be 5% less than this year and that the Board cannot vote to bring it back to last year’s level.
Carl Gustafson of Fox River Valley Gardens pressed the life safety argument for the Edwards Road bridge, which Township Road Commissioner Andrew Gasser now has under contract, albeit at over $50,000 more than originally bid because more of the work will occur in winter.
Former McHenry County Board member Nick Chirikos, a Democrat beaten by Gasser, hired by former Road Commissioner Bob Miller and fired by Gasser on his first day in office, pressed the Trustees to make the job an appointed one.
He argued that Gasser’s salary should be reduced, given his lack of experience in the field.
He said he looked with disapproval at the “extended legal autopses of the former Road Commissioner.”
Given the problem with calculating bills at last month’s meeting, citizen Mike Pollard a calculator to Supervisor Chuck Lutzow.
The Supervisor advised the Trustees that expenses [for the Township of Illinois convention] would exceed the budget, so their payment would be deferred until an amended budget was passed.
Trustee Melissa Victor reiterated her disapproval of line items in the Road Commissioner’s budget showing insufficient money to pay obligations.
“It shows we are over by so much.”
That gave Gasser the opportunity to reveal that while other Township Road Commissioners had spent 65%-70% of their budgets, “we’re at 56.1%.”
“We have the money [to cover the line items showing deficits], but it’s not in the right line item.
“I agree with you.”
He stated that an amended budget was needed.
Of the $2.55 million in the Road District budget, $1.4 million has been spent, leaving $1.2 million in the bank.
Victor pointed to aa 433% shortage.
“There’s so many items,” Victor said.
“There’s three,” Gasser replied.
An audit by Brown & Company was accepted by the Board, but not before Trustee Rachael Lawrence pointed out,
“This audit is not a forensic audit.
“It is a standard audit.”
Forensic audits look for wrongdoing.
Additionally, the Board voted to spend $63,115.43 on a new electronic security system for the twenty-three access points.
The largest cost was $26,180.37 portion to pay installation employees Prevailing Wage.
Only Trustee Dan Shea opposed the idea.
“I think this is outrageous,” he said, while also criticizing the $4,600 a year maintenance fee.
“This is well vetted and way overdue,” Trustee David Chapman said.
Trustee Rachael Lawrence agreed.
“The benefits to having this are profound.
“It is a state-of-the-art system that will last for a very long time.”
Chapman reported that he attended a social media seminar at the TOI Convention.
He commented that the officials could approach it “willy-nilly as individuals or get together as a township.”
He wants “a social media policy.”
“The best idea is to stay out of social media,” Lutzow commented.
Victor’s takeaway from the TOI Convention was
“When you cut levies, you cut services.”
“We haven’t cut any services,” Gasser observed.
He pointed out that the improved traffic flow made possible through cooperation with the McHenry County Conservation District had made recycling more efficient and that Algonquin Township is the first to accept Styrofoam, an increase in service.
Lawrence offered this list of problems:
- meeting agenda was not posted on the web site
- minutes were not posted on the web site
- minutes for Wednesday night’s meeting were not sent to Board members until two hours, twenty minutes before the meeting began
- bills were not provided with enough time for review
She added that there had been problems with answering Freedom of Information requests.
“I can see it in attorney [Jim] Kelly’s bills.
Lawrence thought the lawyer should not be involved with answering such requests.
She urged all Township officials to be “completely above board,” pointing out that a document she had requested from Clerk Karen Lukasik in October has still not been provided.
Victor replied, “I think we need to have everything in order, including our budget and line items.”
Chapman announced that he was setting up a panel discussion on township government for February 8th.
And, it was the last meeting for long-time Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz.
Kunz related that he started in the office at age 20.
Kunz also informed those in the room that township meetings in the late 1960’s through mid-1970’s were quite contentious.