Grafton Township rectified a complicated property transaction this week that dated back several years and involved returning ownership of the township offices and garage from the road district to the township.
The township board Monday night made a final $46,000 payment to buy the property back from the road district. The two entities operate independently with separate budgets.
Road District Commissioner Tom Poznanski then signed the deeds over to the township and agreed to lease a portion of it from the township for the next 20 years at $1 a year and to maintain the property and the building.
"That's a real relief. It's great to be finished with that," Grafton Township Supervisor James Kearns said. "It's something that's been way overdue and, fortunately, Tom has worked with us very well in making sure this was put to rest."
The township owed the road district $700,000 for the land. The board under former supervisor Linda Moore paid $400,000 toward the debt, Trustee Betty Zirk said.
The new board and supervisor, seated in the spring, paid the remaining balance of $300,000 by using $100,000 from its budget and taking out a $200,000 bank loan, Zirk said.
The land swap dates back to late 2008, when the township board voted to build new headquarters in Lake in the Hills. Jack Freund, then the road district commissioner, didn't want to move from the township property in Huntley, so he bought the township offices and garage from the township for $610,000, Kearns said.
But Moore, running for supervisor at the time, and several others sued the board in 2009 to block it from building new headquarters, claiming the board did not get the voter approval required to move forward. In 2010, a judge granted an injunction to stop the construction.
Later that year, residents at Grafton Township's annual meeting voted to return the Huntley property back to the township. The previous board couldn't completely undo the transaction due to more than $654,000 in legal fees the township racked up in various lawsuits between township officials and Moore, Zirk said. Once the new board was seated, it ended the lawsuits, paid off most of the outstanding debt and balanced its budget.
"Everything's back to the way it was before all this monkey business started," Grafton Township Attorney Joseph Gottemoller said.
Grafton isn't quite out of the woods yet, Kearns said. It still owes $200,000 to the bank on the loan, a debt the board plans on retiring before their terms are up in less than four years. As well, money will be tight until property tax money comes through in the spring, so Kearns is working on monthly budgets to ensure officials don't overspend.