Naperville Township votes to hear more of city's plan for roads

  • Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak says he opposes the city of Naperville's offer to provide services for 16 miles of township roads.

    Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak says he opposes the city of Naperville's offer to provide services for 16 miles of township roads. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger explains the city of Naperville's proposal to maintain 16 miles of roads under the jurisdiction of Naperville Township. Township trustees voted 4-1 Tuesday night to consider the idea, which has been praised as an example of government consolidation.

    Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger explains the city of Naperville's proposal to maintain 16 miles of roads under the jurisdiction of Naperville Township. Township trustees voted 4-1 Tuesday night to consider the idea, which has been praised as an example of government consolidation. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/10/2016 6:40 AM

Naperville Township will consider using the city of Naperville as a road services contractor in an idea praised as a potential example of government consolidation.

Township trustees voted 4-1 Tuesday night to allow consideration of the city's offer to maintain 16 miles of unincorporated township roads under a proposal that would call into question the jobs of one elected township official and four employees.

 

The city has pitched the idea as a cost savings of roughly $800,000 a year, saying economies of scale would allow its larger public works crew to serve additional roads at a lower cost.

But Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak said he doubts several elements of the city's price estimate and opposes what he called the attempted "hostile takeover" of his department's staff, equipment and duties.

"If there's no highway department, no vehicles and no personnel, why do you need a highway commissioner?" he said Tuesday.

Nothing has been decided yet, but City Manager Doug Krieger said Tuesday's action means the city will develop a more concrete proposal to present to the township for services such as road maintenance, snow plowing, streetlight maintenance, street sweeping, curb and sidewalk replacement, leaf and brush collection, emerald ash borer treatment, forestry and mowing.

A preliminary proposal said the city could provide those services using only two of the township highway department's seven employees at a yearly savings of roughly $229,000 on personnel.

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"We are not trying to make any money," Krieger said. "We are trying to provide service at a lower cost to the taxpayer."

Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra said it's important to begin conversations about cost-saving ideas like this one, and she plans to reach out in multiple ways to involve both unincorporated and incorporated township residents in future discussions.

"I think it's an opportunity for us to lead the way to deliver smarter, more efficient government," Ossyra said.

Before deciding to continue talks that could lead to an intergovernmental agreement, the township heard from 23 residents -- 15 opposed to using the city as a service provider and eight in favor of at least weighing the idea.

Opposed residents cited concerns about decreased brush and leaf pickups proposed by a preliminary estimate from the city and the loss of accountability that could come from having someone other than township officials in charge of snow plowing. Several praised Wojtasiak's department for providing efficient, useful services.

"Maybe the money savings is not because the city would be more efficient," resident H.R. Hoffman said. "Maybe it's just because our services would be reduced under the new plan."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Krieger said some services are proposed to decrease, but elements of the city's offer will be refined before it is presented to the township.

Wojtasiak did not have a vote in Tuesday's decision to continue consideration of the road services agreement. But Ossyra said he's the one who will make the final call about whether to enter into a contract with the city.

The township's highway department is a separate taxing body with its own line on the property tax bill, and Wojtasiak is the one who oversees it.

First appointed to his post in late 2002, Wojtasiak said he plans to retire in 2017, when his seat is next up for election. Until then, he thinks the decision of whether to get road services from the city rests with those who elected him.

"It's too big a decision for one person to make. It affects too many lives and too much money," Wojtasiak said. "It has to go to the voters."

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