Naperville Township's road district to appeal lawsuit dismissal

The Naperville Township road district is appealing a DuPage County judge's decision to throw out the lawsuit it filed seeking reinstatement of its full budget after township trustees cut more than $500,000.

Road district attorney Rick Tarulis said he filed a notice of appeal Thursday with the court in Wheaton before beginning the appeals process with the Second District Appellate Court in Elgin.

Judge Bonnie Wheaton dismissed the lawsuit July 8, upholding the May 10 decision by Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra and trustees Janice Anderson and Kerry Malm to approve portions of the road district's budget totaling $2,075,005 instead of the requested total of $2,619,330.

Township boards act as a check and balance over road district spending, approving each year's budget despite the fact road districts function as separate governmental bodies with their own elected officials and tax levies.

The board in Naperville Township cut the road district's budget after Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak rejected an offer for the city of Naperville to provide road maintenance, landscaping and snow plowing services for 49.3 lane miles of unincorporated streets.

His rejection caused a rift between the road district and some township trustees. Trustees then voted 3-2 to decrease road district spending on salaries, maintenance, administration, engineering, health insurance and retirement payments and direct some money toward the proposed agreement with the city.

The lawsuit that Tarulis filed May 17 and now is pursuing on appeal seeks to nullify the reduced version of the road district's budget, prevent interference by township trustees in road district operations and require the township board to approve Wojtasiak's original spending plan of $2,619,330 - or enough to "properly fund the functions of the highway commissioner and road district."

So far, township taxpayers have spent $31,697 on legal fees associated with the legal battle - $19,992 for township board attorney Steven Adams to defend against the suit and $11,705 for road district attorney Tarulis to file it.

Tarulis said an appeal could give a better understanding of a "poorly worded" state statute that governs how much latitude a township board has in its oversight role to make changes to a road district budget.

The appeals process could take between six months and a year, but Tarulis said he plans to file for an expedited review. He said the appellate court could uphold or overturn the dismissal or could sent the matter back to DuPage County court for a new ruling on the budget issue.

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Judge tosses Naperville Township road budget lawsuit

Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra and trustees Janice Anderson and Kerry Malm approved more than $500,000 in cuts to the township road district's budget, but those cuts are being challenged through a lawsuit that was dismissed but is now being appealed.
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