House approves plan aimed at consolidation in McHenry, Lake counties

A proposal that would make it easier for McHenry County voters to abolish local townships is headed to the governor's desk.

The plan, approved Thursday in the House 78-22 and backed by a bipartisan group of suburban lawmakers, would also require townships in Lake and McHenry counties to dissolve road districts that maintain less than 15 miles. The state Senate approved the proposal Tuesday.

State Rep. David McSweeney said he believes five Lake County road districts would be dissolved if the bill becomes law. Avon Township is among them. Vernon Township voters last month voted to eliminate their highway district.

McSweeney said there aren't any townships in McHenry that maintain less than 15 miles of road but it was included because when the bill was drafted in the spring with the thought there might be one.

He said the plan was a significant piece of government consolidation legislation and hoped it was just the beginning.

"I want to see it work in McHenry," said McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican. "Likely in the 2020 legislative session I would push for it statewide."

Under the rule, a referendum question to dissolve a McHenry township would be put on the ballot as long as a petition with signatures from at least 5 percent of voters had been submitted. In addition, the trustees of any township in McHenry County could submit a proposition to dissolve the township to the voters.

If a township were dissolved, the duties and assets of the township government would be absorbed by McHenry County or municipal governments. If it is signed into law, the new rules will go into effect in June 2019.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Vernon Hills Democrat, introduced the plan to the Senate on Tuesday, and it was approved later that day 33-16.

"I think it's high time we start doing consolidations of these local units of government," Link said.

Of the 23 state representatives who voted against the plan in the House, 14 were Republicans.

McSweeney said a lot of his fellow Republicans like talking about lowering property taxes, but when given the opportunity to prove it, they showed they cared more about preserving their personal "political fiefdoms."

"You really got to see who cares about taxpayers," McSweeney said.

Plan would allow consolidation in McHenry and Lake counties

Terry Link
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