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updated: 4/17/2013 12:10 AM

Palatine Twp. residents pledge to press road district issue

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The issue of whether to study the elimination of Palatine Township's road district wasn't put in the hands of the dozens of registered voters who attended Tuesday's annual town meeting.

The residents behind the effort did get to address the crowd, however, and pledged to keep pressing the issue.

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"We asked for an opportunity to vote, and that didn't happen," said Matt Flamm, who organized a petition requesting the board examine the benefits of abolishing the tax revenue-generating district. "But there's a new board taking over next month, and we look forward to working with them."

At the beginning of the meeting, Clerk Lisa Moran, who excluded Flamm's request on the agenda on the township attorney's advice, said public comments would be allowed at the end of the night. She added that next week's regular board meeting will include a vote on whether to formally allow public comments at the 2014 annual meeting.

Several officials made presentations about their respective offices, including outgoing Highway Commissioner John Powers, a four-term incumbent defeated in the GOP primary by newcomer Tom Kaider. Powers said that instead of looking back at the past year as he typically has, he wanted to use the forum to highlight services the road district provides, such as snow removal, drainage, sign maintenance, tree trimming and replacement, and equipment maintenance.

"The road district is financially sound. We don't have any debt, our equipment is up to date, the roads are in good shape," said Powers, who added "there's been a lot of chatter about duplication of service. There's no duplication of service."

Powers said the township spends about $84,000 annually per mile, estimating the figure to be about 20 percent less than most municipalities' budgets.

"We get a lot of bang for our buck," Powers said.

Flamm disputed the savings and said that a majority of the road district's expenses benefit just a fraction of residents who live in unincorporated parts of the township.

Joe Gump, a petition signer who ran for highway commissioner in 2009, said beforehand that the annual meeting is where the debate over the road district should begin.

"The road district has a multimillion-dollar budget to maintain fewer than 18 miles of road," Gump said. "This job could be handled more cheaply and efficiently by the municipalities."

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