One cannot believe this is what State Representative David McSweeney had in mind with his bill which became law concerning McHenry County voters having the ability to dissolve their townships where they live.
Last week, the Nunda Township Board, on a 3-0 vote with 2 abstentions, voted to place a township dissolution referendum on the March 17 ballot.
But with a dissolution date in the year 2037. That year is no typo.
The law requires a minimum of 90 days after a successful referendum passage before the township is eliminated.
The law had nothing about a maximum number of days to implement dissolution and the Nunda Township board took advantage of the loophole.
In Friday’s Northwest Herald Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings said the 2037 date was to allow McHenry County to develop a comprehensive plan to implement a township dissolution:
“Our county board is fully [and] completely unprepared for this to happen,” Jennings said.Northwest Herald 10/11/19
If Jennings’ statement is remotely taken at face value, then the entire county needs new elected leadership, because the county will not need 17 years.
But given how litigation will likely be involved with the passage of a township dissolution referendum, it may take at least 10 years in the courts.
The Northwest Herald editorial board called the move by the Nunda Township board a “sham”.
I remember writing a comment earlier this year on a township dissolution topic saying that voters cannot trust their township board to place the referendum on the ballot. Nunda Township’s board proved it.
From the editorial:
“The sham referendum approved Thursday by Nunda Township trustees is yet another example why townships should be dissolved in McHenry County.
“This bit of political cunning, approved in a 3-0 vote with two trustees abstaining, will allow township voters to vote in March on whether to dissolve the township – in 2037.
“Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings pushed the plan, with some trustees complaining they had little advance notice and without public input.
“It’s quite the bit of political cunning – run a ballot measure that would abolish the township but not for a generation, which is long enough that all the people now employed there should be able to retire with their full public pensions. If it fails, another proposition can’t be placed on the ballot for two years.
“This episode further illustrates what some townships are truly about in 2019: self-preservation.
“Jennings admitted as much in the meeting, saying it was important to push this do-nothing measure onto the ballot before the public could petition to place an initiative on the ballot that would eliminate the township sooner.
“Nunda Township – which includes parts of Crystal Lake, Prairie Grove, McHenry, Bull Valley and other communities – is not the only one where people dedicated to preserving this largely redundant form of government are trying to game the process.”Northwest Herald Editorial in 10/13/19 print edition
The editorial appeared to emphasize that while the township board cannot place another dissolution referendum on the ballot for 2 years should the March referendum fail, no such rule prevents a voter-initiated referendum from appearing on the ballot in November of next year.
Not sure if that is a win-or-lose the March referendum approach.
One thing appears certain, if the March referendum fails, only the voters can place the dissolution referendum on the ballot in November of next year. If the referendum loses in March, less likely to be litigation.
But the way these townships fight for survival, litigation will happen no matter what, and at taxpayers expense. In fact, the Nunda and McHenry Township road districts already filed suit against the new law.
Northwest Herald Nunda Township Links: