Incoming supervisor says no shutdown in Grafton Township
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Outgoing Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore has backed off on her earlier threat to shut down operations, newly elected Supervisor James Kearns said Monday.
Kearns said he met with Moore last week to discuss the transition of power and it was then that she told him she wouldn't close the township. She had said the move would have laid off four employees and canceled a bus service for seniors and people with disabilities.
Grafton Township lawsuits
Legal fees in lawsuits among outgoing Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore and other township officials are estimated between $475,000 and $600,000.
Plaintiffs: Moore and her husband, David, Dan Ziller Jr., Richard and Tamara Lueth, Thomas Halat and Frank Kearns
Defendants: Grafton Township Supervisor John Rossi, the board of trustees and the Lois Brothers
Filed: Feb. 26
What's alleged: Plaintiffs said the township board approved bids for the construction of a $3.5 million township office on Haligus Road in Lake in the Hills without approval of voters at the township's annual meeting. Moore and others sought an injunction to block construction.
Status: On May 18, 2010, a judge issued a permanent injunction to stop the building from being constructed.
Plaintiff: Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore
Defendants: Grafton Township Board, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer as the township's acting attorney and Grafton Township
Filed: March 10
What's alleged: Moore said that the board prevented her from doing her job in part by:
Ÿ Changing the passwords on the township computer system.
Ÿ Changing the locks on the office and refusing to give her a key or access to the office.
Ÿ Usurping her authority by hiring a township administrator to perform many of her duties, including her day-to-day functions.
Ÿ Determined that they, not Moore, had the power to hire and fire employees.
The board filed a counterclaim against Moore.
Status: On Dec. 10, 2010, Judge Michael Caldwell issued an order that told the board to stop interfering with Moore's job, to eliminate the township administrator position and to fire Krafthefer as township attorney. Caldwell also reaffirmed Moore's authority to hire and fire employees.
Caldwell ordered Moore to pay the bills promptly, to stop taking the township's financial information out of the township and to stop blocking trustees from having access to township records.
Follow up: In February, Caldwell found Moore in contempt of his original order after she refused to pay a $10,000 deposit for an audit. Caldwell gave her 30 days to pay the bill, or else she'd serve 30 days in jail. Moore paid the bill.
Plaintiff: Grafton Township Assessor William Ottley
Defendant: Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore
Filed: Nov. 22
What's alleged: Ottley said despite township board approval of $575.85 in bills for his office, Moore never paid them. He's asking a judge to order payment.
Plaintiff: Grafton Township Road Commissioner Robert Freund
Defendant: Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore
Filed: Dec. 7
What's alleged: Freund said Moore:
Ÿ Stopped reimbursing him for his wife's health coverage after October 2011.
Ÿ Refused to reimburse road district officials for attending the McHenry County Government Official's meeting on Sept. 8, 2011. The suit also alleges that Moore would not reimburse the staff for the meals they ate while they attended the meeting.
Ÿ Used road district funds to pay $49 a month to prepare his payroll from July 2011 to that November. Moore is the treasurer for the road district and Freund said she used the money without consulting him or the board.
Ÿ Refused to give Freund access to the road district's financial records.
Ÿ Violated an intergovernmental agreement by: refusing to pay the $1,850 monthly rent through November 2011 on office space she rented from the road district, occupying a part of the building she wasn't supposed to and refusing to pay maintenance costs incurred on the property.
Source: McHenry County court records
"I will be taking her at her word that she will do the right thing," Kearns said. "I respect Linda that she wants to finish it out and I'm going to respect her position that she's the supervisor. It's not my place to get in her way right now."
Moore originally said there wouldn't be enough money to keep the township going after mid-April and she proposed closing it until the new board takes office on May 20.
But Kearns said the township has about $122,000 left from the $300,000 it owed the highway department that can be used to meet payroll and to pay some, but not all, of its bills.
Moore did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
A shutdown of a government is rare or unprecedented, authorities say, but others in Grafton Township contend Moore, defeated in the February Republican primary, had proposed unnecessary and draconian measures.
The shortage of funds was blamed on a host of lawsuits among Moore and other township officials that have cost up to $600,000.
The lawsuits started when Moore, then a private citizen, successfully sued the township to block construction of a new township building she believed was unauthorized. She was elected on the strength of that action, but more lawsuits, which could be labeled power struggles, ensued among Moore and the township board, highway commissioner and assessor.
Moore also fired the township attorney and hired one to represent her. The four trustees have their own attorney as well.
When the financial crisis arose, Moore said at the time, three banks refused to lend the township any money because it has not completed its audits. No new funds were expected until June, when half of the township's property tax collections — $500,000 — are due.
Despite Moore's dire predictions, officials and experts questioned whether a government shutdown was necessary.
Bryan Smith, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, a post he's held for 17 years, said he's never heard of a township office closing and reopening. He also said he knows of no provision in the law that would allow Grafton Township to do so.
Legally, a shutdown would not have affected the offices of the assessor and the road commissioner, according to Ron Roeser, an attorney who has been involved in township government for more than 30 years.
Before the meeting between Kearns and Moore, two township trustees expressed hope that a solution could be found short of closing down township services.
"It's such a short-term issue," Trustee Rob LaPorta said. "I'm sure we as a board could find a resolution to keep it open."
Furthermore, Trustee Betty Zirk said, such a drastic move would have been another black eye for the township, which has been tainted by all the infighting.
"It loses all credibility for the township," she said. "I would like to avoid that. I'd hate to think we'd have to give up all our services."
Coincidentally, the township's annual town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Marlowe Middle School, 9625 Haligus Road, Lake in the Hills. Routine business is on the agenda.
Kearns, meanwhile, says he hopes Moore doesn't change her mind about keeping the township running.
"I just hope she doesn't do that and I don't think she will," he said. "If she does she does, the sky's not going to fall. A lot can happen between now and May but you know what? It's not going to kill the township."
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