Township Budgeting – Cutting Out the People

Somewhere in the debate on township consolidation, the comment was made that the people have the power to decide the budget at the Annual Town Meeting.

Unless there has been a drastic change since the 1970’s.

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 Porten’s Subdivision packed its meeting because the Road Commissioner LeRoy Geske (his father Roy Geske was Road Commissioner in the 50’s and60’s) 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.  (There was also a court case seeking to force Geske to take over the non-dedicated road.)
  2. In Algonquin Township, supporters of newly-elected Assessor Forrest B. Hare took over the meeting and put in $500 to sue the McHenry County Supervisor of Assessments Stanley Cornue for overassessing the township. 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.


Township Budgeting – Cutting Out the People — 18 Comments

  1. During the break after the Consolidation vote I very briefly discussed the possibility of having a annual vote for all gov agencies related to levy/tax increases with Mike Walkup.

    His quick comment was: “No one would ever vote to raise the levy”

    I couldn’t reply because he was forced to return to the
    board meeting.

    My reply would of been GREAT, but their have been times people have overwhelmingly voted for tax increases if properly informed.

    Dist 26 vote to raise property tax so state wouldn’t take over the district, passed by just over 2/3.

    IMO that type of law is just what we need to hold taxes down, and a 2/3 vote for approval.

    Make the gov agency justify every penny before any consideration of a levy or tax increase.

    Cal work on that would ya, need help with passing around a petition, email me.

  2. Wow, what a surprise.

    The only time taxpayers’ opinions are wanted is at election time when seeking their votes.

  3. Something needs to be done to improve voter understanding of what is happening with local finances in current year budgets Illinois.

    There are states that have voter approval of levies or budgets in various local units of government.

    No clue how widespread the practice is, but…

    Township levies are subject to voter approval in Ohio.

    In Connecticut, Maine & Vermont municipal budgets are subject to voter approval.

    In New Jersey school district levies are subject to voter approval.

    In New York school district budgets are subject to voter approval.

    If voters reject the budget the laws vary, there could be a contingency budget or a subsequent vote at a later date on a modified or even the same budget (try to convince the voters a 2nd time why the proposed budget is necessary).

  4. Just as important in Illinois would be voter approval of collective bargaining agreements, which are a large driver of costs in the budget.

    If rank and file union membership approval is needed to ratify a collective bargaining agreement, then voter approval should also be required.

  5. Mark’s comment about voter approval on collective bargaining agreements is certainly a start on transparency and voter’s financial reality of what is going on behind closed doors while they are being emotionally manipulated.

  6. The meeting was held so a few hundred residents of a subdivision, which they had bought into on the cheap, could force the 20000 residents of Nunda Township to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the roads of their private sub-division.

    This wasn’t an attempt at direct democracy, this was an attempt at extortion by mob.

  7. The annual meeting also used to vote on the township attorney appointment back in the 80’s.

  8. The Annual Town Meeting like elections today, was ruled by people who showed up.

  9. Clearly the voters of McHenry County are too stupid to decide whether they want township consolidation.

    At least your county board thinks so.

  10. Just to clarify some factually erroneous things I have seen in various comments on the township consolidation vote question.

    First, the McHenry County Board has limited jurisdiction.

    For example, it cannot do anything about school boards.

    It cannot do anything about tax levies assessed by other government bodies such as municipalities, townships, library districts, park districts, fire protection districts.

    Even though the taxes for all of those bodies are collected by the county, all the county does is collect the money and redistribute it as directed according to the various levy amounts that have been set by those bodies.

    Township consolidation happened to be a limited area in which the County Board could play a role.

    This is somewhat of an anomaly under state law.

    Usually the counties cannot do these types of things.

    I was surprised to see it when it was first brought to my attention.

    Under this state statute the County Board may, following a hearing with special notices, decide on it’s own to consolidate townships, move the boundaries, or divide townships (the special Task Force hearings that were held did not satisfy the statutory requirements for that type of action), or can decide to put the question on the ballot for voter approval.

    The latter is the route that was explored.

    Due to a gap in the state law, consolidation of townships would have resulted in a temporary increase in the township levies for those townships which would have been combined with townships that had higher levies.

    This could have been corrected by the boards of the newly formed townships once they had their first meeting.

    The state legislature could also have used the full year which would have intervened between the consolidation vote and the actual consolidations that were voted in by the electorate to correct that situation.

    The vote by the County Board would not have consolidated townships.

    It would just have given the voters the chance to do so, during which time they could have weighed the risks in terms of any tax rate increases.

    If one township in a proposed consolidation match up had voted not to consolidate, that would have defeated the proposal regardless of any population differences or vote total differences between the two townships.

    In other words, if Richmond and Burton townships were proposed to be consolidated and the voters in Burton Township didn’t want to do that, it wouldn’t happen regardless of how many people voted for it in Richmond Township.

    Therefore, each township would have had veto power to prevent consolidation.

    Any new consolidated township boards would have been elected in 2017.

    I would imagine that candidates for those offices would have made it a point to promise to roll back any tax levy increases that would have occurred as result of consolidation.

    The voters could have held their feet to the fire on that.

    Any minor and probably temporary increases in taxes would also need to be weighed against possible future savings in terms of decreased numbers of salaries of elected township officials (some Supervisors make $60K to $70K and some Road Commissioners make close to six figures), future ability to eliminate township offices, garages, truck fleets office staff, etc. and other possible efficiencies.

    A majority of the County Board, in my opinion, chose to hide behind the tax issue to defeat placing the question before the voters to decide.

    I think that the presence of many township officials at all of the day time meetings had an influence on that.

    (Of note was the fact that two of the Members voting against the proposal had monetary interests in the present townships, two voted in absentia for reasons that may or may not have corresponded with the Board Rules and Open Meetings Act requirements, and one who could potentially have called in to vote under the Rules and OMA due to illness did not do so, all of which could have changed the result).

    Those polls that were taken showed overwhelming support for placing the issue on the ballot for voter decision.

    The County Board cannot decide to eliminate townships in the manner that was followed for consolidation, nor can it place such questions on the ballot.

    Township elimination, as well as consolidation, etc., would have to be done by citizens circulating petitions, getting the required number of signatures, and filing same with the County Clerk for inclusion on the ballot.

    Legal objections could be filed in that instance, challenging the signatures, the language used in the petition, the applicability of various state statutes, etc., which could develop into court litigation before anything could make it to the ballot.

    The consolidation proponents didn’t want to go through all of that which is why they chose the route of approaching the County Board.

    People who are so inclined can circulate petitions for either elimination of a particular township, or any consolidations.

    According to my research they would need to gather a number of signatures of currently registered voters equal to 8% of the total number of people who voted for governor in the township or townships in question in the 2012 election.

    To eliminate all townships in the county at one time has a higher signature requirement and also a higher vote total for passage.

    That was done after Bob Anderson was able to get such a measure on the ballot in 1994.

    Elimination of all townships in the county would also eliminate the Count Board and replace it with three County Supervisors, so that may or may not be desirable.

    Elimination of one township could potentially also have that result depending on subsequent legal wrangling.

    The ball is now in the peoples’ court.

  11. That would be the November 2014 election when the governor was voted upon.

  12. The consolidation plan was no plan.

    Clear up the legal end first, Id think we wouldn’t want a three people board running the county either.

    Add the amount of levy to the vote.

    Get your act together first, not after big mistakes are history.

    Work on giving voters oversite on all levy and tax increases, that is key to our ever growing property tax

    Stop crying over spilled milk, and move on.

    Even with 4 possible conflicts the deal would of still failed.

    I voted for board members on both sides of the vote, maybe each side was partially right and wrong.

    Maybe four new people are needed to get the problem of high taxes fixed.

    Just saying, look in the mirror them whine.

  13. Nob: Thanks for all of your inputs on this.

    You and I may have disagreed but at least you got into the fray.

    Btw: The legislature will never do anything to correct any problems with either consolidation or elimination.

    The Township Officials Of Illinois lobby will beat them up if they try.

    The only way to get the legal wrinkles ironed out is to have someone pass something on the ballot and then they will have no choice.

  14. Mike I know when a lobby group gets a hold it’s hard to beat them back, but if the numbers and facts are in your favor the voters will make the difference.

    I’d guess the Rauner consolidation report will make a difference one way or the other.

    Lots of anti Twh people on that commission, Jack my guy from Lake Barr.(he’s not running again so I already forgot his name) lol

  15. Dan Duffy, gee I hate when I can’t remember a name right away, is on Rauners consolidation committee.

    Dave McSeeney my other rep seems to be pro elimination, although he and Dan have been quiet during the consolidation process.

    Like I said the numbers don’t seem to support elimination, but I listening, and at least all services should go threw a big eye glass on how we can control their costs.

  16. Make letting us vote on all levies and tax increase on your election platform.

    I believe that would be a win win platform.

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