From a comment left by McHenry County Board member Mike Walkup:
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.