Conflict of interest entered the discussion with regard to three McHenry County Board members during Tina Hill’s Committee on Committees meeting Friday morning.
First off was a comment from John Reihansperger, a spokesman for those who live on private roads outside of municipalities.
He urged that Anna May Miller not be named to chair the Transportation Committee, contending there was “a conflict of interest” because she was employed by the Algonquin Township Road District. (Her husband is Bob Miller, the Township Highway Commissioner, who is running unopposed in the Republican Primary Election.)
“Is it the taxpayers or her job and husband [she is representing].
“It’s obvious she is trying to protect her husband’s budget,” he said.
Later in the meeting, Miller responded.
It came up during the discussion of the composition of the Transportation Committee.
“I, too, feel the non-dedicated road issue a real concern here,” Donna Kurtz said.
“I live on a non-dedicate road,” Mary McClellan added. “They (the Nunda Township Road Commissioner’s men) have always plowed our roads. I don’t believe McHenry Township takes care of its non-dedicated roads as well as Nunda and Algonquin.”
Anna Miller explains her position on non-dedicated roads while Sue Draffkorn and Paula Yensen listen.
Miller explained that the Transportation Department staff is rewriting some of the requirements for standards that must be met before County Motor Fuel Tax can be spent on such roads. She pointed out that there will be new Transportation Committee members “that will have missed out on a lot of work.”
“The County has no control over these township road commissioners,” she emphasized.
“The law is what the law is,” Miller pointed out, suggesting that those living on non-dedicated roads should be lobbying their legislators if they want to change it.”
Later she pointed out that a law that allows 50% of MFT money collected to go into an account to subsidize the upgrading of non-dedicated subdivision roads in anticipation of being taken into a township’s road system is set to expire in 2013.
“If there is anyway for us to offer more assistance, I favor it.”
Miller explained that she had been in contact with the State’s Attorney’s Office and had an opinion saying that she was not in a conflict of interest position.
“The County has no oversight whatsoever over township road district budgets.
“My personal employment is not contingent on the non-dedicated road aspect of the (township).”
“I believe [if] the non-dedicated road money comes back to the [subdivisions], all the road commissioners would be losing some of their budget,” Sue Draffkorn added.
Miller pointed out that 50% of township road taxes on property within municipalities goes directly to the cities and villages. [Come to think of it, this is money the municipalities get without being blamed for levying the real estate taxes, much as the cities don't get blamed for the share of the state income tax that is passed on to them.]
McClellan explained that there are restrictions in the County ordinance regarding the minimum width of the right-of-way, some of which are extremely difficult or impossible to meet in older unincorporated subdivisions.
And, Miller pointed out, if the subdivision roads “meet the standards, the township road commissioner can still say, ‘No.’
“I understand their frustrations. The people of McHenry Township have elected Mr. [Leon] Van Every and there isn’t even competition. That’s not place to be passing judgment.”
One the other hand, she pointed out the relationship between unincorporated subdivision residents in Nunda and Algonquin Townships is good.
Getting back to the discussion of who should chair the Transportation Committee, McClellan asked, “Do you feel you would be non-biased in that position?”
“Yes I do,” Miller replied and the discussion moved on to liaison positions.
Pending a change of mind by Hill, Miller will remain the head of the Transportation Committee.