McHenry Township Consolidation Cost-Benefit Study Summary

Here is the Executive Summary of Urban Analytics cost-benefit study of consolidating McHenry Township with McHenry County:

Executive Summary

In this report, the findings of a cost-benefit analysis of General Assistance services, Property Assessment services, and Road District services provided by the Township of McHenry, Illinois and the McHenry Township Road District (hereinafter referred to as “McHenry Township”) are presented.

There are many different methodological approaches to cost- benefit analysis.

The most common accounting approach is to simply measure the monetary benefit received from one dollar in cost incurred to produce that benefit.

However, in public finance, especially at the local government level, there are policy implications to public decision-making that do not easily lend themselves to an accounting solution.

While the cost to plow a mile of road after a snowfall or the cost to mow the grass in a park can be estimated easily, many programs such as public health and welfare programs have benefits to local residents that cannot be calculated easily in monetary terms.

Cost-benefit analysis, therefore, must balance the mathematical approach with the commonsense understanding of how local public services are provided.

As the cost to run local township and county governments and the cost to provide new or maintain existing public infrastructure (such as roads and public facilities) continues to increase each year, decisions made by elected officials, policy makers, township and county staff, and residents in general have consequential short and long term fiscal implications.

Financial Comparison between the County and the Township

• The findings presented in this report indicate that at the end of fiscal year 2016, for every $1.00 that the County spent in the provision of public services to its residents, the County received $0.99 in revenues;
• This small deficit of $0.01 remained the same for fiscal year end 2017 ($0.01) and increased slightly in fiscal year end 2018 to ($0.05);
• At the end of fiscal year 2017, for every $1.00 that the Township spent in the provision of public services to its residents, the Township received only $0.87 in revenues. This deficit of $0.13 decreased slightly at the end of fiscal year 2018 (to $0.12) but worsened by the end of fiscal year 2019 to $0.21 (or $0.79 in revenues received for every $1.00 the Township spent to provide public services);
• Alternatively stated, at the end of fiscal year 2016, for every $1.00 that the County received in revenues, the County spent $1.01 in expenditures to provide public services;
• This small deficit increased slightly for fiscal year end 2017 ($0.02) and increased a little more at fiscal year end 2018 to ($0.05);
• At the end of fiscal year 2017, for every $1.00 that the Township received in revenues, the Township spent $1.15 in expenditures to provide public services. This spending deficit decreased slightly for fiscal year end 2018 (to $0.14) but increased at the end of fiscal year 2018 to ($0.26); and
• These findings do not support the argument that McHenry Township is more efficient in the provision of public services than McHenry County.

General Assistance Program

• On a per-capita basis, McHenry Township spent $5.66 per person (per resident in the Township) to provide General Assistance (including Emergency Assistance) to those people in need in the Township;
• While it is commendable that McHenry Township has a very high commitment to providing General Assistance (including Emergency Assistance) to its residents, this per-capita expenditure in the Township is 2.72 times higher than the median average and almost two times higher (1.91) than the mean average when compared to 15 other townships in McHenry County;
• While the County does not provide the same type of services that the Township currently provides to its residents for general assistance services, the County does provide various public health and welfare programs and services;
• If the residents of the Township were to vote to dissolve the township, there does not appear to be any significant “ramp-up” or “leveling-up” costs associated with absorbing these General Assistance services into the County; and
• Thus, the cost to provide these services (or some portion of these services) would most likely be lower in the County than in the Township.

Property Assessment

• McHenry Township had the second highest level of property assessment spending among 15 townships analyzed in McHenry County;
• On a per-parcel basis, the mean average spending to assess property in all the townships analyzed was $18.31 per parcel on a sample size of 139,974 parcels across the 15 townships;
• In McHenry Township, however, spending for Property Assessment services equaled $20.75 per parcel;
• At $20.75 per parcel, the amount spent by McHenry Township to assess property on a per-parcel basis is about 13.3 percent above the mean average cost to assess parcels and about 7.8 percent higher than the median average cost among all the townships analyzed; and
• While the County provides only supervisory assessment services, the cost of these services is less than one-third of the cost (32.7 percent) that McHenry Township spends (on a per-parcel basis) to assess its own parcels.

Road District

• At the end of fiscal year 2018, McHenry County spent $74,629.46 per mile across six transportation funds on total transportation expenditures compared to McHenry Township at $50,269.16 per mile in FY 2019;
• Advocates of townships maintaining their own roads argue that salaries per Road District worker in the townships tend to be lower than these same workers in the County;
• This may be true but a salary analysis represents just one small portion of total transportation costs including road maintenance costs, facilities, equipment, salaries and benefits, and other miscellaneous transportation costs. An analysis of salaries only does not account for these other costs;
• It should be noted that a per-capita (per-person) approach more accurately reflects the cost measurement of transportation spending. Roads can be single-lane or two-lane, paved or gravel, used frequently or used infrequently, rural versus in the city or in the township, have higher or lower levels-of-service ratings, et cetera. Based on a review of the literature, these variables are difficult to isolate and analyze in the per-mile cost comparison;
• The per-capita approach assumes that each person in the County or in the townships has equal access to these roads, regardless of the type or quality of these roads or the variables previously mentioned. The per-capita approach smooths out the anomalies in the data and lends itself to a better measure for comparing costs across townships; and
• The County, on a per-capita basis, spent $57.10 per person compared to McHenry Township at $103.42 per person. The argument that townships can maintain their roads at a lower cost than the County cannot be supported by the data.

= = = = =

The study concludes:

Based on the data (financial and socio-economic) analyzed for the preparation of this report, it does not appear that McHenry Township can provide three types of public services – – General Assistance, Property Assessment, and Maintenance of Roads and Bridges – – on a more cost-effective basis than McHenry County. Based on a review of the past three years’ audited financial data for both McHenry Township and McHenry county, it does not appear that this conclusion will change in the near future.

I note that the study author refers to 15 other townships, while they are 16. One, Burton, is quite small.


McHenry Township Consolidation Cost-Benefit Study Summary — 46 Comments

  1. All that said, the property tax assessment on the tax bill is minimal.

    The township stays a township.

    Let the anti townies and old grumpy guys whine away

  2. An incredible amount of faulty-logic gibberish in this summary.

    Let’s hope that the full report has the apple-to-apple cost comparisons that are the real reason to do cost studies otherwise this is just another waste of money.

  3. But how much is paid out into the pension system?

    Taxpayers are still on the hook for that when IMRF employees retire!

  4. Its written by a carpet bagger from Virginia, who uses other states statistics, rather than our own Township and Counties.

    If you look at his graphs he doesn’t even use the years statistics for comparison.

    The only true statement of the 41 page report is on page 6 when he acknowledges the counties cost per mile is roughly $25,000 more than the townships to maintain.

    The he assumes the counties VAC to take over General Assistance at no cost, they only serve veterans and their families.

    I can go on and on, this document belongs in the shredder!

  5. Every tiny move they make is part of the depopulation agenda. People worried over their tax dollars are falling right into line with this horrific agenda. You are all suffering from the inability to see the big picture. In the meantime the infighting is a bonus for them.

  6. As someone who’s been analyzing municipal finance for 40+ years, I find the introductory mea culpa at best irrelevant and at worst self serving.

    It leads to no useful conclusion.

    The cost-per-capita figure for general assistance is useful, but general assistance would be better analyzed by determining the administrative cost per general assistance client and as a percent of the general assistance budget.

    When I sat on the Oak Park Township board many years ago, we were spending 50¢ in administration for every $1.00 paid out in benefits.

    The road district cost-per-capita calculation is useful but, as the author of the study points out but then doesn’t do, the best metric is cost per lane-mile, not per road mile.

    I give the study a grade of C+.

    If the author worked for me as an analyst, I’d tell him to go back and try again.

  7. So the study shows exactly what all the other studies show…township government is not cost effective.

    Did we expect the township people to react in any other way?

  8. PaulRevere/aka Jim condon. I don’t hear any whining except on this page.

  9. 09-33-456-031 The Township assessor and 52 of her neighbors had tax increase of $8.96 over a 10 year period between 2007 and 2017.

    Thats less than one dollar per year increase.

    I don’t need that kind of Government in my life nor do I wish to continue paying the Assessors fair share of the tax burden.

  10. Townships are the biggest ripoff in Illinois!

    The pro-township stooges are all township hacks and pension pigs.

    “In southern Illinois, 17 counties function smoothly without townships. Evanston voters got rid of Evanston Township in 2014 and had their city government assume township functions. That saved taxpayers nearly $800,000 the following year. Downstate Belleville has done away with its township government, and in 2017 voters in Cook County’s northwest suburban Hanover Township eliminated the township’s road district and highway commissioner.

    There are many more township bureaucracies that could be eliminated. Why allow an obsolete layer of government to continue sapping taxpayer dollars? There’s already far too much waste at the city, county and state levels. Any governmental body that can’t justify its existence should be gone.”

  11. What a lot of you fail to mention in these areas where townships were eliminated they shared coterminous boundaries with other municipalities.

    Not the case in mchenry Township.

    What about the parks, food pantry and bus service?

    We could have saved probably close to $100k in tax payer money if it weren’t for studies and special meeting called by the 3 stooges.

    The voters will decide AGAIN!

    And bob will cry foul again.

    Same old story different day.

    Show me savings greater then 10% of the $80 I pay and I will be the first in line to consolidate and or eliminate until then I’m keeping my money close.

  12. The best way to compare road costs would be SqFt, SqYd, or probably SqMi of pavement plus some consideration of curb and storm sewers.

    Survey reflects the wishes of those who voted to pay for the survey, quite a common dealy.

  13. Steve Wilson.

    Why would anyone with the author’s credentials be working for you? Just a little arrogance on your part?


    A carpet bagger?

    I’m sure you have the credentials to legitimately question the report.

    Your anger is showing.

    You’d do better to just keep putting up signs.

  14. Machone, To quote your comment “Same old story different day. Show me savings greater then (sic) 10% of the $80 I pay”.

    – Great for you that you have it to throw around, but $80 dollars is $80 dollars …

    I personally have friends where that $80 is the difference between the electric staying on or groceries to feed his kids – or gas to get to work, or the elderly man forgoing HIS prescription to purchase his wife’s!

    And please don’t you dare say that the examples of people above could go to the township to get “help” because they DID and they don’t qualify because they are hard-working citizens who are drowning in property taxes and are stuck !!!

    Stop the fighting and wasteful spending (how much did all these signs/rebar cost?) and lead by example and live within the means and reduce duplicative services, I am certain there are other townships/municipalities, etc. who would follow the townships lead, but someone local HAS to go first !!

  15. Wow.

    A study by an entity that was HAND-PICKED by Bob Anderson and his personal Town Board flunkies…AGREES with Bob Anderson???

    It’s almost like they know who got them the check, isn’t it..?

  16. I find the comment by HavingFaithForAll to be ridiculous.

    How about the new Pritzker taxes?

    Start with the Doubling of the per gallon gas tax, increase auto tags by $50 bucks, and on and on and on.

    There is no end in sight.

    Remember, the party line is Illinois is winning, baby…

    One thing I’ve learned, and it’s painful.

    You can’t fix stupid

  17. The township road crew in McHenry work an average of 10 hours ——————-

    Each month!

    Townships are great!!!!

    Unless your a taxpayer.

  18. Havefaithforall 10% of $80.

    For the first year if the township is eliminated.

    There is no plan or actual facts on cost savings past then.

    Sobieski who is Adam and I haven’t been to a strip club in a longtime but willing to go if you are buying.

  19. Wasn’t the firm the only one to reply to the Request for Proposal?

  20. There are numerous issues with the methodology used in this study.

    Starting with the application of club theory on purely public goods.

    The use of per capita comparisons in road district spending and not comparing the more relevant center lane miles

    Ignoring the fact that the township road district is required to pass through a specific portion of the roads & bridges levy directly to the municipalities in their territory, he used the total levy for his comparison not the net amount they have after the pass through.

    On that same topic, nowhere does he mention that the county is not required to do the same pass through of road maintenance money.

    He states that there will be no “significant ‘ramp-up’ or ‘leveling-up’ costs associated with absorbing these General Assistance services into the County” – but ignores the fact that there is currently no general assistance services at the county so if the county should choose to take on the general assistance there would be significant ramp up because there is currently no department to handle that.

    He falsely assumes the County’s Veterans’ Assistance Commission could take on General Assistance

    He mostly compares the township with other townships and this continues into the property assessment portion of the report – the only comparison he makes to the county is the cost difference between the county’s oversight of the township assessment (a form of checks and balances) with the cost of actually going out and doing the assessments, a 100% apples to giraffes comparison.

    All this makes me wonder what instruction he was given in the closed door phone meeting with the committee comprised of Trustees Anderson and Verr – a meeting that we have no minutes of and was not open to the public and therefore in violation of the Open Meetings Act as it was an official committee of the board.

  21. Dogsforlife:

    As I stated, I’ve been in the municipal finance business for 40+ years. I’ve been on every side: investment banking, advisory services, portfolio management. I’ve run research departments, was President of the Chicago Municipal Analysts Society, board member of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, advisory council member to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. I’ve published articles on municipal finance in several journals, including Government Finance Review. Heck, I was even an elected official for a few years.

    So I think I’m qualified to have an opinion.

    However, if I claimed to be right because of my credentials, I’d be committing the logical fallacy of appeal to authority: An expert isn’t right because of who he is, he’s only right if his facts and reasoning are right.

    So my purpose in posting on this blog is always the same: to provide facts and reasoning so people can make their own, informed decisions. If I help to educate the public, I’m pleased to have been of service. If someone disagrees with me and explains where I’ve erred in my logic or provides useful contrary evidence, I’m always pleased to engage with them and, where I’m shown to be wrong, to admit it.

    That’s why in this case I pointed out what I saw as sloppy analysis in the cost-benefit study and provided metrics that would better determine the efficiency of the governmental services.

    If you disagree with any of my points, please offer your own analysis and feel free to rebut mine.

  22. yes, team Anderson was the side that hired them, the other side thought there wasn’t enough time to conduct a decent analysis.

    Steve Willson is on the money with his comment.

  23. Referendum Rule #1

    When in doubt, about a question, just Vote NO.

  24. What a bunch of Bunk!

    Not even a complete job done… who ever hired this org.

    should Never have this type of duty.

  25. If the County only provides the road district service mandated by the state at 90% of the existing cost to residents, it doesn’t sound like a good deal to me for taxpayers or residents.

    Why would the County do more than the mandated services?

    Who will do GA, who will provide tax assessments to the County and at what cost?

    What about after year one, with County and union contracted employees?

    How will costs be reallocated after the fact?

    When in doubt, go back to rule #1!

  26. Ah,nob, you have it wrong but it doesn’t stop you.

    The board majority wanted this on the November ballot but township supporters were worried a large turnout vote might defeat them so they forced the issue.

    You kept asking for a study.

    Now a study has been done.

    You wouldn’t accept any study as valid unless it supported townships just as all the other pseudo intellectual township people on this blog.

    So much for your guise of open mindedness.

  27. I found this error in the mileage for Alg twh, how many more errors are there? ALGONQUIN 57.90 Miles of Township Roads.
    Alg twh has actually increased it’s mileage in part due to the County’s Nondedicated Subdivision policy. 67 Miles of Township Roads
    The figures given as costs per mile for Alg twh on the report are wrong.

  28. Where is the cost estimate on what McDOT thinks it would cost to maintain the township roads?

    While this report does shed light on costs to a small degree, it lackS inclusive enough info to make an accurate judgement on whether elimination is the correct route.

    Tax payers should demand more transparency on this issue.

    Bigger gov agencies historically cost more, elimination of townships makes for bigger gov.

    As Cal would say: WHERE’S THE BEEF?

  29. Guess what.

    I’ll be voting YES.

    Get rid of townships.

    They are part of the political corruption picture of IL.

    I’ve seen the roadway ‘workers’ have multi-hour lunches.

  30. dangtaxpayer!

    what turds did you see that!

    That’s freaking outrageous

  31. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

    Township consolidation referendum.

    What should I do?

    Keep a rotten layer of useless government with all the pensions?

    Or get rid of it and rain on lot of lazy patronage rats’ parades?

    10% tax cut guaranteed?

    Where do I vote yes to abolish!!!!

  32. I saw my sample ballot.

    How can the Township put on a referendum that calls for abolition in 2037?

    What the hell!?

    Is that so the township whores can get fully vested on their pensions, or so their kids can?

  33. Why do all these gender non-conforming people love townships? It’s so weird.

    It’s really kinda funny.

  34. Mike Tayler, why are you such a liar.

    The abolition will cut 35 useless loafers.

    I only wish it could be done in Grafton.

    Townships make no f—king sense.

  35. I can’t see any benefit to have townships in the first place, unless you wanted to dole out jobs to patronage people or relatives.

    A long time ago Eddie Dvorak confessed to me that township jobs were ‘creamy gravy’.

    I think he was a supervisor over in Nunda.

    Is he still alive?

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