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updated: 4/16/2013 12:13 PM

Incoming supervisor says no shutdown in Grafton Township

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  • Linda Moore

      Linda Moore

  • Outgoing Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore had threatened a shut down of township services, including this bus service for seniors and disabled people.

       Outgoing Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore had threatened a shut down of township services, including this bus service for seniors and disabled people.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore said a lack of money was going to force her to shut down township services, including bus service for seniors and disabled people, but she has since backed off on that threat. There will be enough money to get through the rest of this month and May, incoming Supervisor James Kearns said.

       Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore said a lack of money was going to force her to shut down township services, including bus service for seniors and disabled people, but she has since backed off on that threat. There will be enough money to get through the rest of this month and May, incoming Supervisor James Kearns said.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • James Kearns

      James Kearns

 
 

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.

"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.

Financial woes

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.

Positive outcome?

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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