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updated: 4/9/2012 1:50 PM

Should Milton Township be dissolved? Residents to have say Tuesday

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Residents from DuPage County's nine townships will gather Tuesday night to hear updates about what their townships are doing, meet with elected officials and possibly enjoy a light snack.

But registered voters who attend the annual town meetings for Milton and Lisle townships will have the bonus of deciding if three advisory questions should appear on the November ballot, including one asking if Milton Township should be dissolved.

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"There's been a lot of controversy over township government. People should be asked if they want to keep it," said Paula McGowen, a Milton Township resident who circulated petitions to have two advisory questions reviewed during the township's meeting.

The second question McGowen is hoping to get on the ballot asks if Milton Township should reduce its annual budget by 20 percent.

If a majority of the residents attending Tuesday's meeting support both measures, it's Milton Township's responsibility to put the questions on the November ballot.

"I just want the people out there to say whether they want township government or not -- or whether they want the budget cut or not," McGowen said. "I don't want it to be political. I'm the messenger."

Milton Township Supervisor Chris Heidorn said both proposed ballot questions are "poorly written" and "won't result in any meaningful advice."

"It's like having a referendum that asks: Do you like taxes?" he said. "This is just going to result in a knee-jerk reaction from people."

None of the questions would be legally binding. But they could be embarrassing for Milton Township, which has had some negative attention recently. The township last month issued a written statement on its website after one of its employees was accused of doing campaign work on township business. That complaint was dismissed by the township's ethics commission.

Still, Heidorn said the townships are "the most cost-effective" level of government, providing general assistance such as food pantries, doing road maintenance and offering services for seniors.

"We've been extremely responsible with our budgets," Heidorn said. "We've reduced staff. We've reduced expenses. Asking a question like that (cutting the budget 20 percent) is kind of a slap in the face from people who haven't got a clue of what they're talking about."

In Lisle Township, residents will be asked to put an advisory question on the November ballot that has nothing to do with township government.

Petitioners associated with the Occupy Naperville movement want voters to respond to the following question: "Should the United States Constitution be amended to clearly state that only individual persons, and not corporations, associations, or any other organizational entities, are entitled to the rights enumerated in the Constitution?"

Nathan Pietsch, a member of Occupy Naperville, said the group is trying to draw attention to super PACs -- political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited funds to influence elections.

"We feel it's led to the unfair tainting of elections and won't give the regular blue collar people as much of a voice in politics," said Pietsch, a Lisle resident.

In addition to the ballot question, Lisle Township residents on Tuesday will be asked to give the township permission to sell a house in downtown Naperville that it has been leasing for decades to a nonprofit group. ChildServ has been using the two-story house along North Sleight Street as a home for troubled adolescent girls.

"We've decided that we shouldn't be in the real estate business and are going to try to sell it back to the charity," Lisle Township Clerk Richard Tarulis said.

As for the seven other town meetings, officials say they aren't expecting anything out of the ordinary.

"Unless you're someone who really likes to be bored for 45 minutes, it's pretty much routine," Bloomingdale Township Supervisor Edward Levato said.

Still, York Township Supervisor John Valle said it's worthwhile for residents to attend the town meetings -- even if there's a dry agenda.

Valle said the meetings are a chance for township officials to get feedback from residents while educating them about township government.

"A lot of people don't understand what a township does," Valle said. "Once they do, they're amazed at how many things that we do."

Time: Lisle Township wants permission to sell house

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