The two people running for Grafton Township supervisor agree that whoever wins the seat will inherit a financial mess.
It is estimated the township has spent $600,000 on lawsuits between outgoing Supervisor Linda Moore and the current trustees, between Moore and the outgoing assessor and between Moore and the outgoing road commissioner. Moore has also proposed a brief shutdown of the township office because she says there isn't enough money to keep it going.
Township supervisor candidates Pam Fender and James Kearns agree the township's finances are in dire straits but they have different ideas on how to handle the situation.
Fender said the township needs to be on an austerity program, and that while she'd love to put programs in place, hire a township attorney and an auditor, those things will have to wait, she said.
"Until we find out what the bank balances are, nobody can exactly say what they're going to do," Fender said.
In the meantime, Fender, who is running as a Republican, suggests securing sponsorships to keep the busing program alive for seniors and the disabled. She also suggests negotiating with the township's creditors to see whether they would allow staggered payments.
Fender, also a trustee on Huntley's village board, said the township could see whether Huntley would contribute more money toward the busing program's expansion. She would also convene board members, volunteers and charitable groups to see what cuts could be made in the budget.
"There seems like there's a new drama in Grafton Township with Linda Moore still there," Fender said. "Until that goes away, who can tell you what's going to happen, but we're going to really have to have some lean living."
Kearns, who is running as an independent, said he would like to see if Moore is willing to end the litigation she has going against the township.
He would also institute a program by which money could not be spent without a signed purchase order. He says this would improve the township's accounting practices to help trustees keep track of what's coming in and what's going out.
He pledges to find more efficient ways to do business, such as considering employing part-timers instead full- timers, and whether the township could use its own garage for basic vehicle maintenance rather than farming it out to the road district. He too, would put together a volunteer advisory board to make budget projections and set financial goals.
Kearns, who runs a pet food manufacturing company, says he won't take a salary until the township gets its property tax installment in June or July.
"Pay everyone else first," Kearns said. "That's what you do in a business."