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Algonquin Township trustees to consider pushing road district consolidation referendum

Officials to meet at 7 p.m.

Algonquin Township Rachael Lawrence.
Algonquin Township Rachael Lawrence.

Algonquin Township officials will vote Wednesday night on a question that has drummed up controversy in McHenry County:

Should voters have the chance to consolidate the highway department?

Supervisor Charles Lutzow included the item on the agenda for the board’s Wednesday night meeting. He added the item to the agenda after Trustee Rachael Lawrence sent him an email requesting that he do so.

The move also follows letters and phone calls from McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks pressuring the township to put a referendum on the November election ballot allowing residents to eliminate the road district with a majority vote.

“The House, Senate and governor all believe in the voters’ ability to decide this issue,” Lawrence said in a statement to the Northwest Herald. “If the rest of the board denies this opportunity, they ultimately insult the very people they claim to represent.”

Other township officials contend it is too early to put a binding referendum to voters.

“It’s way premature,” Lutzow said. “It wouldn’t go into effect until 2021. Why would we do it this year?”

The law allowing voters to eliminate the highway department – House Bill 607 – is flawed, Lutzow said.

In effect Jan. 1, the law allows township trustees to ask voters whether they want the road district abolished and its responsibilities given to the township. A majority vote would push that plan into motion, eliminating the department at the end of the current highway commissioner’s term.

The responsibilities of the highway commissioner would transfer to the township supervisor in 2021.

In a July 9 letter addressed to the five members of the township board and signed by Franks and state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-Crystal Lake, the McHenry County politicos said township officials are approaching the Aug. 20 deadline to place a binding referendum on the November ballot.

The letter indicts township government as a place where the “highway commissioner is operating with almost no oversight.”

“Every bad headline generated by the current highway commissioner, and every taxpayer dollar squandered by him, gives momentum to the growing movement to do away with township government entirely,” the letter said.

Township officials will meet at
7 p.m. Wednesday at 3702 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

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