Township Consolidation Dead – Updated with Public Comment

Led by McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller, thirteen members tacked the lid on the coffin of the township consolidation movement.

During the lengthy public comment period, in which the opponents of township consolidation dominated the podium, County Board members had the following on their desks:

A map showing winner and losers in the township consolidation proposal which the County Board rejected.

A map showing winner and losers in the township consolidation proposal which the County Board rejected.  Taxpayers in the pink townships would see tax increases, while those in green would see decreases.

Twp consolidtion winner-Loser map dollar backup

Estimates of what might happen the first year after consolidation.

Unlike the County Board vote to put whether the voters should be allowed to elect their Chairman in an at-large election, the vote on putting township consolidation on the ballot was defeated 9-13.

At least two who voted in favor of putting the at-large election question on the ballot two years ago, even though they opposed the substance of the question, were Gottemoller and Mike Skala, according to Andrew Gasser.

In a point of order, Mike Walkup challenged the right of Gottemoller and Anna May Miller to vote based on an Appellate Court case in which he was the attorney.

In the case of Bob Anderson vs. McHenry Township, Walkup pointed out, the Appellate Court for the Second District, which controls McHenry County, ruled that a person who had a pecuniary interest in the existence of a particular township could not vote on whether or not a referendum that could eliminate that township should appear on the ballot.

Walkup implied that both had a “pecuniary interest” in township government–

  • Gottemoller because he is the attorney for Grafton Township
  • Miller because she works for her husband Algonquin Township Road Commissioner Bob Miller

Walkup, who is running against Gottemoller in the at-large election asked Gottemoller if he would refrain from voting.

“Not a chance, Mike,” was the sharp reply.

“I don’t know how’s that’s a point of order.”

Without Gottemoller’s and Miller’s votes, the tally would have failed 11-9.

At the initiative of Chuck Wheeler, Mary McCann was allowed to vote by phone, even though she was on the way to catch a plane, not a reason stated in the rules.  She voted, “No.”

Here’s who voted how:

  • Michele Aavang (voting by phone from DC lobbying the Farm Bureau) – No
  • Yvonne Barnes – Yes
  • Sue Draffkorn – No
  • Andrew Gasser – Yes
  • Joe Gottemoller – No
  • John Hammerand – No
  • Jim Heisler – Yes
  • Tina Hill – Absent
  • John Jung – No
  • Don Kopsell – No
  • Donna Kurtz – Yes
  • Bob Martens – Yes
  • Mary McCann – No
  • Anna May Miller – No
  • Robert Nowak – No
  • Nick Provenzano – Yes
  • Michael Rein – Yes
  • Carolyn Schofield – No
  • Mike Skala – No
  • Larry Smith – No
  • Mike Walkup – Yes
  • Chuck Wheeler – Yes

[Those up for election are in boldface type.  Four voted in favor; six against.]

= = = = =
The comment period was vibrant.

Proponents were called first by Gottemoller.

Supporters of consolidating township government are seen in this photo.

Supporters of consolidating township government are seen in this photo.

Twp Consolidation bedarded man

Please identify this proponent.

A bearded man (whose name I didn’t catch, from Woodstock, I think) led off.

“There’s too much money being spent in this county.

“This needs to be done.

“I don’t understand why there’s any question of putting this on the ballot.”

Joe Tirio

Joe Tirio

Joe Tirio, who is a candidate for McHenry County Recorder of Deeds stepped up next.

“Who better to make the decision than the people who will have to live with it?” he asked.

One of Tirio’s opponents, Tina Hill, did not attend the meeting.

Mike McCleary, who heads the Republican Party in the most rural District 6 area, spoke in favor next.

Michael McCleary

Michael McCleary

He talked about the poll taken by proponents in which

  • 58% agreed consolidation would save money
  • 80% agreed the question should be on the ballot
  • 54% favored township consolidation

“You were not elected by these township officials, were you?

“Let the citizens have a voice.

Please allow the people to have their voices heard.”

I wanted to advance my idea of a Crystal Lake Township comprised of Lakewood and Crystal Lake and was incorrectly grouped with those who wanted to speak in favor of consolidation, so I didn’t get notes on Mike Shorten’s, Cynthia Allen Schenk’s and Bob Anderson’s comments.

I remember that Schenk pointed out the small number of people living in Riley and Marengo Township–11,000 in all.

I was commenting on the resolution that would have an outsider evaluate township consolidation.  I thought the definition of the work product was too narrow and suggested adding

“or the creation of a new townships of incorporated areas which could subsequently be eliminated by referendum, if so authorized by the General Assembly.”

There is another process outlined in state law that seems to allow a County Board to do that.

I believe that township government provides little value to those living in incorporated areas and that, once created, Crystal Lake and Lakewood voters could be convinced to abolish a Lakewood Township.

The General Assembly has allowed voters in two townships (Evanston and Belleville) to abolish that level of government by referendum.

Take a look at the municipalities which touch each other on the map below.

McHenry County map showing townships and municipalities.

Under my understanding of the law, the County Board could form new townships from municipalities touching each other could form new townships consisting only of incorporated areas. Then the General Assembly could be petitioned to allow referendums for abolition.

I also talked a bit about McHenry County Blog’s poll showing 80% of residents favored putting consolidation of townships on the ballot and suggested an opponent of those voting against such ballot access could be vulnerable.

Those opposed to township consolidation were asked to stand.

Those opposed to township consolidation were asked to stand.

Next came the parade of opponents to putting the question on the ballot.

Harry Alton

Harry Alten

Harry Alten of Chemung Township was first.

“Township government is a very personal and responsible form of government,” he said.

Richmond Township Supervisor Pat Doyle did most of the talking. To his left is Road Commissioner Dave Bockelmann.

Richmond Township Supervisor Pat Doyle did most of the talking. To his left is Road Commissioner Dave Bockelmann.

Richmond Township Supervisor Pat Doyle charged the group proposing consolidation had not come up with “any proven savings.”

He outlined increases in costs, including enlarging the township highway garage.

Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

Supervisor Samuel Jones pointed out that “Burton Township [taxpayers] would receive an increase in their taxes.”

A surplus that has been accumulated by Burton Township would be spent on Richmond Township General Assistant recipients, it was predicted.

Burton Township Assessor Jessica Huber was next.

Jessica Huber

Jessica Huber

Paid $27,000 a year, she predicted that the cost of assessing, now $13.96 when her salary is included, would increase.

“The only thing you’ve accomplished would be creating a larger township,” she said.

She pointed out that there are no benefits now and that she works out of her home.

“You’re going after the smallest part of the tax bill.  [That doesn’t make sense.]”

Preston Rea

Preston Rea

Alden Township Preston Rea, who is running for County Board in District 6, spoke next.

He talked of “all kinds of unintended consequences” of the township consolidation proposal.

He said he was not attending because “he had skin in the game, except I enjoy it.”

Rea said it was not going to have a significant financial impact on him.

State law, he said, allow electors at the annual meeting to direct township officials to do “thirty-eight things, whether they like it or not.”

Bob Miller

Bob Miller

Algonquin Township Road Commissioner Bob Miller then stepped to the podium.

“We kept waiting for that terrible report [outlining horrible waste] and it never came.

“We are giving you facts today.”

Referring to the outside study, he said it “should have been done years ago.

“Information shows it will increase the taxes in Grafton Township over 100%.

“When we combine, the people of Grafton will seek the same services that those in Algonquin receive.”

Then he presented results from one consolidation of two fire protection districts in DuPage County.

In 2011, one house number, worth $444,810 paid the Fairview Fire Protection District $105.85 and $110.50 in 2012.

After consolidation, in 2013, the bill for Special Service Area # 6 in Downers Grove, the bill was $388.16.

= = = = =
Posted 10-7-15

Former Seneca Township Supervisor and County Board member Ersel Schuster testified next.

Let the local residents bring it to the officials by referendum.

Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings argued that the results of the study discussed earlier was needed before any decision of whether to take township consolidation to the ballot or not.

Ask yourself why the people in favor of consolidation are so afraid of financial analysis.

Harry Walter, a 35-year resident, who has worked in Belvidere, wondered whether snow plowing would be as good if townships were consolidated.

Everyone talks about money.

Nobody talks about safety.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Durham Township Supervisor John Pihl walked to the podium and told folks that the only reason he was there was because “it was too wet to combine.”

He suggested that instead of academics at Northern Illinois University that the Board should “try the University of Illinois Extension.”

He pointed out that both Dunham and Chemung Townships have about a million dollars worth of debt.

That resulted from referendums passed in the last two years.

Bob Dodson

Bob Dodson

Bob Dodson, who served on the Dunham Township Board as a trustee for “17 or 21 years” said the following:

Not once did i say, “If we combine with Chemung, our troubles would be over.”

Our government is way closer to the public than you folks.

He then suggested that the Board should listen the “Harper Valley PTA” song. [You can find the lyrics here.  It is about hypocrisy.]

Dobson went on to call out State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi:

Lou – Hey, I can’t see the football games for free.  The bleachers are in the way.

“It’s a whole different story when it’s in your backyard.”

Dunham Township resident Pat Kennedy asked, “How many people have been pounding on your desks.

“Maybe one, maybe two townships at most.

“There isn’t any level of government out of there that is more fiscally conservative.”

Another Dunham Township resident, Mimi Book said, “Dunham is doing great.

“Please don’t force us to consolidate.

“We have that choice ourselves.”

She pointed out that Dunham with 3,000 people would be dominated politically by Chemung with 9,000.

“So, when the snow flies, who’s going to get the last snow plow?”

= = = = =
I may have missed some testimony, but I think what you read above reflects the public comment part of the meeting.

The contents of the Board debate will be in a separate story.


Township Consolidation Dead – Updated with Public Comment — 49 Comments

  1. How come on mention of the possible study that got voted down because of lack of going threw the proper channels Cal?

    Had the study been allowed the vote could of gone the other way, or more likely been way more lopsided to the no vote.

    No mention of John H. speech either which along with Joe’s admitted mistake speech made the NHW who has been pushing consolidation.

    It was disingenuous of you Cal to speak in favor or consolidation when your CL Twh idea is really about elimination of Twh’s.

    Mike W. wants elimination also, has said right here that consolidation wasn’t what he wanted, and yet voted for a something he didn’t believe in. DISINGENUOUS WITH A CAPITAL D!

    Face the facts, there were no good facts to support this mess, and it was poorly presented power play besides.

    Joe admitted making a mistake forming the task force in the first place, then voted against because of the 135k that would see tax increases.

    Bravo Joe, we need more politicians to admit their mistakes and correct those mistakes.

    The video of John’s speech in the NWH is way to short, it was to the point and correct.

    Back to the drawing board Pro dudes, this time get your game on straight, it was like watching the Bears play the Packers with the same results.

  2. It was a long meeting. I haven’t gotten to most of the board debate yet.

  3. Motions with tie votes are considered defeated.

    It takes a majority to pass a resolution.

  4. There should be 23, oops 22, voting.

    Ken Koehler has resigned and his opponent not appointed yet.

    Tina Hill was absent.

  5. Sorry I missed where you said you were grouped wrong.

    Another thing not covered much was unionization.

    By creating bigger Assessors and Highway Depts the union leadership would now look more to Twhs since now the larger amount of employees dues would make it more of a viable financial win for the unions.

    Some of those that voted for were worried about the next election, but those that weren’t were ignoring the know fact about half the Twhs getting a tax increase.

    Here I thought Rep’s were against tax increases?

    Rhino’s or power grabbers?

    Some that voted yes claim to be TEA, TEA voting for tax increases breaks their 3 main principles about fiscal responsible low costing gov does it not?

  6. Tina Hill was at a funeral.

    That makes 20 in the room, 2 by phone or a total of 22.

  7. It has been said: “When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.”

    Props to Mr. Gottemoller for his words and actions today.

    Conversely, after being asked more than a dozen times to demonstrate the cost savings and essentially being told by Mrs Kurtz and other consolidation proponents “we can’t.”

    After being asked to explain the data used to hypothesize this savings and being told my Mrs. Kurtz ”

    We don’t want paralysis of analysis”.

    and after being told that half of all townships would experience a tax increase with consolidation and then being told by Mrs. Kurtz “I realize that change is a very scary thing for all of us.

    That’s not what were doing today.

    That’s not what were saying.

    All we’re saying is we want this on the ballot.”

    One would have to question the honesty in some of the others on this board.

    To intentionally keep the populace uninformed is bad government.


    To intentionally withhold information because you know you are being dishonest is yet a whole different level.

    To then pretend you are the peoples advocate by imploring their right to vote on the issue, after intentionally withholding the information needed to make an informed decision?


    and to Mr. Wheeler and the others who either caved or bought into this?

    Shame on you!

  8. Hill could made a phone call for a vote. lou is going to be mad at u Tina hahah ,

  9. IMHO, two comments above stand out:

    1. ““The only thing you’ve accomplished would be creating a larger township,” Jessica Huber

    2. ““When we combine, the people of Grafton will seek the same services that those in Algonquin receive.” Bob Miller

  10. The consolidation effort was a Republican effort and it distracted many from the real goal: circulation of candidate petitions to support the launch of campaigns for stronger ‘conservative’ voices in Springfield, D.C. and yes, McHenry County.

    We do not need more ‘compromisers’ or ‘I will work across the aisle’ candidates.

    We need people who are willing to:

    1. work diligently and relentlessly on passing legislation to revise the State Constitution relative to public sector pensions (current language was approved by the voters) PLUS either returning the administration of all Public Aid to the Townships or removing General Assistance from the Constitution.

    2. eliminate prevailing wage laws and support the elimination of Project Labor Agreements at the federal level (crony capitalism and guaranteed union jobs).

    3. totally remove ‘the right to strike’ for public sector employees and remove any law relative to forced arbitration.

    4. fully support the campaign to change current redistricting laws. (2020 is rapidly approaching)
    There are many more changes we need to make but in the interest of brevity I will stop here.

    Bottom Line:

    The County Republican Party has much to do but ill conceived and unresearched efforts are a distraction.

    There are many posters on this blog who have great ideas and do phenomenal research which could be used by candidates who are running for office.

    Relative to the negative voter impact of a NO vote on the consolidations, I would suggest that the polls conducted were typical:

    Ask the question in such a format that you arrive at the desired result.

    We will likely never know the results of the following poll which states:

    “There is an effort underway to consolidate townships. Would you support township consolidation, knowing it will increase property taxes in one half of the County and there are no studies or statistics which support a claimed decrease in property taxes.”

  11. I would respectfully suggest that the merits of the issue are for the referendum campaign.

  12. The story is not completed.

    I plan an article on the county board debate.

  13. Senator Althoff is working to draft legislation to address the issue of the township debt (which will remain within the township where it was incurred ) and the tax levy which will be the lowest of the consolidated township as stated by Bob

    Anderson, points seemingly overlooked by all involved.

    Sitting in a room filled with township officials is an ugly experience.

    I commend all nine board members who recognized the importance of representing the voters desire to see this issue on the ballot.

    I look forward to seeing more progress in that direction.

  14. “I would respectfully suggest that the merits of the issue are for the referendum campaign.”

    Come on Cal, seriously?

    We both know proponents were intentionally deceptive with their information.

    That is to say they intentionally did not want to provide the data used for cost savings.

    We also both know exactly why this is!

    How can you explain supporting intentionally keeping the voters uninformed and then encouraging them to get out the vote?

    You know, as well as I, the reason for this is because voter’s emotions would run high and they would vote in favor of it and then find out the ugly truth afterwards

    To support this and not support the Affordable Care Act or the Patriot Act is complete and total hypocrisy!

    Now, tell me you support them all and I will understand and I will then tell you you are not a Republican!

  15. What should be looked at in earnest is all the services rendered in the county, not just Twhs.

    IDOT, McDOT, Twh’s and Municipalities could exchange some roads for basic year round maintenance.

    It would be cheaper to have Cary and Alg Twh maintain Cary-Alg road than have McDOT workers driving 20 mins with their plows up from western Woodstock.

    I’m sure other people could suggest other obvious savings.

    Cary and FRG should at least plow 14 as IDOT financial problems has cause 14 to be a nightmare since services were reduced by the state.

    CL plows and sweeps 14, their section has less backups than towards the SE.

  16. I disagree as to the level of plowing service provided by Crystal Lake on Route 14.

  17. Hey nick answer my question why did u lie about tina being at a funeral?

    The funeral she went to was hours after the meeting.

    Or should i ask donna kurtz.

    Or mike shorten .

    O mike had to many kidding Cocktails.

  18. Mike shorten what do u think about donna kurtz now.

    Want to so call waste your time on a committee again?

  19. This just amazes me how these people and others think and still think they need to protect us from ourselves!


    Spend your time telling us why or why not it is a good thing or not a good thing!

    OMG people this is not rocket science here…

    Let the majority rule here and we the people decide our fate.

    Get off your high horses!

    and do what we are paying you for!

    Serve Us!

  20. LTresident, good to hear the obvious…

    I don’t know of any voter who felt deceived by this effort but these township people are determined to try and make it seem that way.

    Truth will out in the long run.

  21. Cal if you don’t like the way CL is plowing 14, you need to come down to Cary and FRG to see how the state does it.

    Seeing is believing.

    If the so call Rep Pro side is worth a …, they will come back with a real honest to … plan that has no tax increases in it.

    The real Rep’s we voted in protected us from the fake Rep’s trying to grab power.

    There was no mention at all from the Pro side to get the info out, advertise, put it in the NWH, this blog, the Chicago media as this if ever passed will have multi state implications.

    A debate should of happened on WTTW, Shorten and Kurtz would be made to look like self serving fools.

    Anyway I haven’t heard the fat women sign yet.

  22. Maybe the Pro side should hire David Axelrod as their pitch man, worked for BO.

  23. Well it all served to put the Township Cartel on notice.

    Also the proponents commentary is entertaining. .

    ‘What’s $27K to you Taxpayers’ chimes Jessica as she laments she doesn’t get benefits.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  24. The real issue was not whether or not Townships are necessary but whether or not you save money by consolidating them.

    We need an option to Abolish them.

    Of course Miller is going to argue in favor- his entire family’s livelihood i tied to justify them and I doubt he could command that salary in the private sector where township government runs in the family has less market appeal.

  25. Now everyone’s pensions, special deals, and nepotistic ways are safe –

    Don Kopsell and his cronies can rest easy….

  26. You know, all the local politicos MUST have their fiefdoms … at the taxpayers expense, of course!

    Proving once again, that all politics is local.

  27. So are these figures really accurate?

    If so your telling me that for the first year on $100,000 assessment that 6 our of the 9 townships would pay only less than $30.00 more for consolidation!

    Then after the first year whoever won election could lower the EAV down to the lowest EAV.

    Seems like a no brainer to put this on the ballot for the people!

  28. Live on, please see my post at 8:57 today…

    it refers to legislation to resolve the question about the levy of the consolidated townships and also the debt…

    neither of which will be a problem after consolidation.

    Inish, I agree with you 100%…

    abolishing them would be preferable.

  29. Mike Shorten does this mean u stepping down from nunda trustee? Donate your money u get for the meeting then.

    How many times u are drunk at nunda meeting?

    i smelled booze?

  30. Watcher1940 said: “Senator Althoff is working to draft legislation to address the issue of the township debt…”

    Watcher1940 what about Jack Franks, Dave McSweeny, and all the other people that were elected to represent the county in Springfield?

    Wouldn’t it be better to try and get all our Reps working on the problems as y’ll see them?

    Why not get them to also work on Nepotism, Patronage, and Cronyism right away.

    Have your Pal Mike Walkup, a lawyer, write something up so it can be made legislation?

    Pam was instrumental in getting legislation passed so MCCD could raise their levy even higher than before, ie raise your taxes?

    Stop whining and run against the Millers, you’re just like the rest, NO VIABLE PLAN.

  31. Who tells people in a public forum they are not prepared because they drank to much that is like Bulls eye and paints a pretty ugly picture

  32. That is Mike shorten Nunda trustee for any of you who do not know who came to meeting professing the in ability to provide information because to many adult beverages

  33. Oh, nob, there you go again…seeing whining where there is none. I’m very happy the consolidation committee had already seen to resolving the problems that people like you choose to use to try to destroy the idea. Now I wonder what reasons will be used to be against it once those milestones are resolved. That’s not whining…Just curiosity. It has been an interesting process and one I’m sure will make a lot of taxpayers happy too.
    As to all the rest of your questions, I have a job and kids and I’m grateful to the committee for devoting their time to accomplish what I wouldn’t be able to. If that’s whining…😄

  34. The issue was consolidation, which you really don’t want, you want elimination, so why support this effort if it’s not what you want?

    You and a few others always bring personnel into the mix, like the Millers and a few others.

    That is whining and really doesn’t contribute to even elimination, as almost all gov agencies have not outlawed Nepotism or Patronage.

    Like I said work in that direction as that seems to be the burr under your saddle.

    Find somebody to run against the Millers worth our vote, Bob hasn’t had competition on the ballot for years now, and even I don’t think that is a healthy thing.

    Without a good plan with not tax increases you’ll just keep losing the battles.

    I’ve given some good suggestions, use them, I’d love for any group to even freeze my property taxes.

    I’d also like to vote on all levy’s, that definitely would make the elected prove the need for increases as most voters would never vote for a levy/tax increase without overwhelming proof a tax increase was needed.

  35. Good Olde DemocRAT Mike Wakup, always pushing to eliminate elections and voting, like his Chicago Democrat soulmates.

  36. The public has not been allowed to vote on township levies since about 1970.

    What precipitated the preventing the electors from voting on the budget was two-fold:

    1- A Nunda Township subdivision packed its meeting because the Road Commissioner Geske would not fix their unincorporated road. (Mayor Daley’s State Representative Johnny Vitek, which may have helped in the organized takeover of the meeting.) The electors put $1 in each line item of the Road Commissioner’s budget. They apparently didn’t know that the Road Commissioner’s salary did not come out of his department’s budget, but out of the Town Fund.

    2 – In Algonquin Township, supporters of Assessor Forrest B. Hare took over the meeting and put in $500 to sue the McHenry County Supervisor of Assessments. The attorney spent the money, but he ran out before any suit was filed.

    Thereafter, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law taking budget power away from the voters and giving it to the Township Board.

    So much for direct democracy where it counts–the budget.

  37. Has the public ever been able to vote on the other gov levies?

    The reasons you gave are nonsense, the legislature was wrong then as they tend to be now.

    If you want to start a petition drive to allow voters the right to controls levy’s with our vote, I’ll be glad to help.

    During the break after the vote Tue I mentioned that concept to Mike W., he said that no one would vote for higher levies, but had to leave before my response.

    Nonsense, that voting would be like school referendum’s, if the voters see the justification, they will raise their own taxes.

    We didn’t get to 29th in the nation just with poor fiscally irresponsible elected, we all helped.

  38. Only 22 county board members voted?

    There are 24 county board members.

    Well, since this failed, how about a consolidation effort to reduce the amount of county board representatives?

  39. Great Day in the morning ….

    the Big Government rats take the cake …

    once again, but the cake may gone soon ….

    and with it their fetid hides.

  40. nob, nob, nob…

    I have never mentioned the millers…

    so you can’t truthfully say I’m whining about them.

    I have enough disgusting officials in my own little twp to complain about.

    Yes, I do believe that eliminating them (twp gov.) would be the perfect, well-deserved answer but the world is not perfect, is it?

    Since you brought up the millers…

    to get someone to run against them in both places, that person would have to live in their twp, district, and also have the bucks to go up against their war chests.

    That is a tough combination to find.

    But life is good, there’s always hope!

  41. Never mention the Millers?

    Come on you mentioned their nepotism more than once in the past.

    You agreed with inish 100%, that means by proxy as that person mentioned the Millers.

    Hope doesn’t cut it, for 7 years what has hope gotten us, a doubling of the national debt.

    Read my other comments on the newer story, you’ll love my rambling.

    Not! 🙂

  42. The failure of the task force was to prove the “value” of eliminating small, locally controlled governments by rolling them into larger, bloated, bigger government run by political insiders.

    Much to the disappointment of political insiders like Mike Walkup and Donna Kurtz…

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