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Franks Asking Algonquin Township for Referendum to Abolish Highway Department

Post Date:05/04/2018 9:50 AM

WOODSTOCK, Ill. – McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, dismayed by out-of-control spending of taxpayer money on legal fees in Algonquin Township, is urging the Township Board to put a referendum on the November ballot to eliminate the Highway Department.

Franks sent a letter Thursday to Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow and Trustees Dan Shea, Rachel Lawrence, Melissa Victor and Dave Chapman, imploring them to take advantage of a new law that allows a township board to put a referendum on the ballot abolishing its township highway district and assuming its responsibilities.

News stories over the past year have chronicled a never-ending parade of legal bills racked up because of lawsuits filed by and against Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser. The bill as of the township board’s April 11 meeting stood at $478,892.

“The County Board and I worked hard to reduce our levy by 11.2 percent for this property tax year. The fact that the ongoing circus in Algonquin Township could very well negate whatever tax relief we secured for township residents is infuriating and an unconscionable affront to our taxpayers,” Franks, D-Marengo, wrote.

Franks has been joined by Republican County Board members Chris Christensen, Tom Wilbeck, John Reinert and Christopher Spoerl, all of whom are Algonquin Township residents and taxpayers, in calling for a referendum.

“Government should always be looking at ways to improve redundancy and improve upon the implementation of services. The taxpayers of Algonquin Township deserve better. Consolidation of the Algonquin Township Highway Department is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. Let the Algonquin Township Board have full oversight,” Christensen, R-Cary, said.

“As is my stance, I am absolutely for the citizens of Algonquin Township to express their decision-making voice. Let the citizens decide if change is needed. Let the voters be heard,” Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, said.

“I dislike any kind of government waste, but there’s something particularly offensive about wasting taxpayer money on legal fees racked up by infighting and bad decisions. Highway commissioners operate with almost no oversight, and this has resulted in disaster for the taxpayers of Algonquin Township. It’s time to give the voters the ability this November to rip up the blank checks they have been forced to sign again and again,” Reinert, R-Crystal Lake, said.

“I joined the County Board because I was alarmed over the fact that McHenry County, for the first time ever, is losing population. People don’t need any more motivation to move, and unfortunately, the goings on in Algonquin Township are yet another example of things that make people want to leave. At this point, the voters deserve the right to decide whether the highway department should continue to exist as an independent unit with little or no oversight,” Spoerl, R-Cary, said.

Franks’ letter echoed the sentiments that Algonquin Township’s taxpayers deserve to be heard, especially with the high property taxes that they pay.

“Algonquin Township residents already suffer one of the heaviest property tax burdens in the nation. People are being taxed out of their homes. The fact that their hard-earned tax money is being squandered like this is an embarrassment,” Franks wrote.

Local governments including Algonquin Township have until August 20 to approve binding referendums for the Nov. 6 midterm election.