Mike Walkup Discusses Township Assessors and Road Commissioners

Before I post the next installment of McHenry County Board-elect Mike Walkup’s thoughts on township government in Illinois, let me point out that someone forged his name on a comment under the first article.

The poster used the email address mikewalkup@gmail.com.  If another email from that address comes, it will be marked as “spam.”

The person posted that Walkup wanted to be County Board Chairman.  Here is Walkup’s reply:

Mike Walkup

“I did NOT send the blog entry on the County Chair position.”I DO NOT want to be the Chair and would refuse to serve if somehow I was magically elected.

“This post should be removed immediately!

“Someone is playing dirty tricks here.”

I have chosen to leave the fraudulent comment up, so you can see the dishonesty of the poster.

It is obvious that there are heated opinions on township government.  Lots of people have no idea what it does–including a neighbor who brought up the subject while I was passing out my precinct letter.

Those who want to run for township office have to file petitions from November 19th through November 26th with the township clerk.  Prior to filing petitions, an economic disclosure statement must be filed with the County Clerk.

The number of signatures is minimal and the pay for some of the offices is quite good.  With unemployment what it is, people with lots of time to knock on doors might snag some really decent paying jobs for a minimal printing expense. For instance the Algonquin Township Supervisor pays $66,655.40 for the first two years and will rise to $69,348.28 in the final year, plus $1,000 for being the Road District Treasurer. (See other Algonquin Township salaries here.

Continuing the Township Government Series – Part 2


When I was campaigning for County Board, the most common question by far was “why are my taxes not going down if my property is worth less?”

It is natural to assume that if your tax bill comes from the county and you write your check to the county, that it is the county that is responsible for your assessments.

This is not the case. Assessments are done by local township assessors, of which there are 17 in McHenry County. The county has nothing to say about assessments.  [I have to take issue with this statement.  The County Supervisor of Assessments has the power to equalize assessments on a township-by-township basis and can even drill down farther in the process.  There are Supervisor of Assessments who have assumed the role of the township assessor when the assessor does not do the job.]

When townships were first formed, assessors rode around on their horse or in their buckboard essentially carrying the assessment records in their hatbands. It made sense to have the assessments done in a small area so the assessor could physically get around and develop a familiarity with the relatively small number of local properties.

Today, many townships have tens of thousands of properties and everything is done on a computer. In smaller townships, the assessor is part time and may have another job or a farm to contend with.

Assessments could very easily be handled today by the county government. Cook County has an elected County Assessor.

[I’d like to add some research data that Algonquin Township Assessor Forrest B. Hare developed in the 1970’s.  He compared the size of assessing jurisdictions with their margins of error throughout Illinois.  Both townships and counties were included because there are no township assessors in Southern Illinois counties under the commission form of government.  The organization seemed to make little difference from the standpoint of the accuracy of the assessments.

[What the data showed was that jurisdictions with at least 5,000 people had more accurate real estate assessments than jurisdictions that were smaller.

[The findings spurred me to sponsor the multi-township assessor bill.  It allows smaller townships to join together for the function of assessing.]


The building on the north side of the Nunda Township Road Commissioner’s complex.

Townships have elected Road Commissioners.

The building on the east side of the Nunda Township Road Commissioner’s complex.

Again, when townships were formed, road repairs consisted of hitching up a buckboard, loading a couple of guys onto it with shovels, filling it with gravel, and going out to fill the potholes.

The building on the south side of the Nunda Township Road Commissioner’s complex.

The wagon was heavy and the horse would get tired. It couldn’t go too far.

$6,500, plus labor, flag pole and planters on the road side of the southern building.

Township road crews only maintain township roads.

They have nothing to do with county, state or federal highways.

As the township grows in population, municipalities take over what used to be township roads, causing a crazy quilt patchwork where township road crews have to travel over municipal roads to get to now disconnected pieces of township blacktop.

The only reason that overall township road mileage tends to stay the same despite growth of municipalities is because of the unincorporated subdivisions that have also been built that have added miles of twisting roads and cul de sacs which continue to be the responsibility of the township.

Today, we have trucks with GPS systems.

The road maintenance function could just as easily be done at the county level.

If we would still like the Road Commissioner to be elected, the office of County Road Commissioner could be established.

As an aside, I should mention that there are 17 counties in Illinois which never had townships.

These are located mostly in the Southern portion of the state and are predominately rural.

They still have local road districts, so that could still be possible even without township organization.

So that’s it.

That is what townships do.

They do not function as local mini-governments for unincorporated areas as is sometimes claimed by their supporters.

They have very limited and specific functions, all of which could be done at the county level or other government levels if we didn’t have the townships.

Nxxt installment: What to do about townships


Mike Walkup Discusses Township Assessors and Road Commissioners — 15 Comments

  1. Cal is correct about the County’s role in supervising the assessments.

    I was speaking about the initial assessment decision.

    Most people think it is the county’s doing completely.

  2. And characteristically for Mike, he has declined to address my previous questions and he will also evade these:

    1. Why do you want to move us to a Cook County Assessor-type system, where the County Assessor has god-like power to set property tax assessments, BUT without Cook’s ability to ELECT its County Assessor?

    2. Mike, your Democrat friends in Springfield are poised to dramatically increase our property taxes by shifting the burden of State teacher pensions onto our local communities; given this, why do you so desperately want to deny the voters’ say in the property tax assessment process?

    3. Mike, will you somehow benefit from the above..?

  3. remember that undesignated roads may be the responsibility of the townships- but you wil find that NO ONE cares for their roads.

  4. Mike, will you also explain why you ran as a democrat for park district?

    ‘m sure all the republicans that voted for the (R) would like to know why you tricked them into thinking your a republican.

    I think cal and mike walkup should be less worried about fraudulent commentors and more concerned about RINOS

  5. So, the insinuation is that a unit of government that is limited by State Statute is a bad thing, that somehow the County can take care of Township roads and save tax money and that Township Assessors are a bunch of hayseeds off the local farm that don’t know what they are doing.

    Once again I will identify myself as a Township Offical and a servant of my community.

    I always felt that controlling the scope of government was a good thing.

    The County Highway Dept. doesn’t have the equipment or manpower to take care of Township roads and spends more money than the typical Township to maintain roads.

    Township Assessors are required to have the proper education to be an assessor.

    They must continue that education on an ongoing basis.

    Many assessors are part time which is cheaper than a full-time employee.

    These assessors are part of our communities and not from “headquarters”.

    I like the idea of being able to vote for one of my neighbors for assessor rather than having an employee of the County , accountable to no one, assess my property.

    None of your suggestions will save any money and will actually cost more at the County level.

    How big of a building, staff, supervisors, managers, etc. will the new County Assessment office require?


    Last time I checked the Citizens of a Township can attend the annual meeting and require the Township to do 38 different things.

    What other unit of government gives that power to the citizens?

    Mike, your arguements just do not hold water and are an invitation for an ever expanding County government in Woodstock.

    If folks will look at their tax bills they will understand where their tax money goes and why their taxes are not going down.

  6. lets change the website to “WALKUPS mchenry county blog.com”

  7. Kopsell has spent lots of money on lawyer bills, i heard that he seued Nunda Township ?

    how can you do that?

    if he did this he needs to go!!!

  8. Once again there are mostly ad hominem attacks above. The first sign that you have no message is you try to kill the messenger.

    We could elect a County Assessor here as in Cook.

    IF someone were to be successful in abolishing just one township, the state and county would have to scramble to pick up the pieces.

    There is no reason why a county which has dissolved one or more townships can’t have an elected assessor position created by state law. Maybe Jack Franks could work on THAT.

    Nice to hear from Preston.

    How have you been doing?

    There is at least one study which shows that the taxpayers would save 50% on taxes if township functions were taken over by other units of local government.

    This was in suburban Cook but Algonquin would be comparable.

    I would comment further now but I am off to scheme on electing the County Board Chair.

    Too bad we can’t just let the people decide that.

    Maybe soon.

  9. A law already exists which allows the election of the Supervisor of Assessments.

    I believe a referendum to approve that change has occurred in Kankakee County.

  10. Cal and Walkup working together to cover up the RINO’s past.

    By all means call it an “attack”

    If you want to be on the county board, a public servant, you need to answer to these accusations.

    Cal your doing no good aiding this RINO

    I used to this think this was a credible blog but now its full of personal grudges

    It makes me sick to watch this blog go down the drain with Walkup’s opinion

    If i wanted to listen to the goat farmer blab, i would go to his website.

  11. Peter – curious, but why focus on Walker’s partisan identity? That really isn’t what these threads are about.

    If your only ability to attack Walkup’s thoughts on Townships is to attack Walkup, that sure says a lot.

  12. i could care less about Walkups opinion because he is a RINO. i dont understand why people come on these comments and just argue about avoiding the thread.

    If I thought Walkup was a true conservative trying to reduce government, i might listen to what he has to say.

  13. Avoiding the thread? Petty sure it is YOU avoiding the actual topic of discussion.

    Anyway- carry on. Your inability to discuss the actual issues, and your absurd reliance on partisan labels, tells us all we need to know.

  14. So, as I understand Mr Walkup–a practicing attorney–the reason property tax levels in McHenry County are not following the real estate market is because township assessors are responsible for the initial assessed values?


    No mention of the Property Tax Estension Limitation Law (so-called tax cap)?

    It would seem anyone with a modicum of interest in the subject, no less an attorney and now county board member, in theory with the capability of actually researching the subject, would know better.

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