Naperville officials: Savings 'irrefutable' from road services deal

  • Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra says elected officials owe it to residents to look for ways to govern more efficiently, such as approving a contract by which the city of Naperville would maintain 16 miles of township roads.

    Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra says elected officials owe it to residents to look for ways to govern more efficiently, such as approving a contract by which the city of Naperville would maintain 16 miles of township roads. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Township resident Joseph Sheahan says he and his neighbors fear losing the responsive service they receive from Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak if an agreement is approve under which his office would contract out road service to the city of Naperville.

    Naperville Township resident Joseph Sheahan says he and his neighbors fear losing the responsive service they receive from Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak if an agreement is approve under which his office would contract out road service to the city of Naperville. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/6/2016 5:41 AM

Naperville city officials say they're not trying to oust Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak with their proposal to take over maintenance of 16 miles of township roads.

But they did call on Wojtasiak Tuesday night to explain the specific problems he has with the proposal, which the city says would save roughly $800,000 a year.

 

"The math is irrefutable," city council member Kevin Coyne said. "If there were questions, I'm curious what they are or why they haven't been raised with specificity."

Wojtasiak said he plans to meet with reporters Wednesday and with city officials next week to give his "rebuttal" to the city's offer to serve as a road services contractor beginning as soon as July 1.

In a proposed intergovernmental agreement, the city would provide maintenance of roads, streetlights and sewers, as well as snow plowing, street sweeping, curb and sidewalk replacement, mosquito abatement, leaf and brush collection, emerald ash borer treatment, forestry and mowing at a set cost each year of roughly $1 million.

Services are divided into maintenance/operational and capital categories. The township road district over which Wojtasiak presides as its only elected official could choose to contract with the city for either or both types of work.

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"This agreement in no way dissolves the office of the highway commissioner," Coyne said. "We can't eliminate the office. That's not the intention nor is that achieved."

Wojtasiak, however, has said the proposal is trying to "put me out of business."

The idea came out of a city review of the report by Gov. Bruce Rauner's task force on government consolidation and unfunded mandates.

City Manager Doug Krieger said the city can care for the roads more cheaply by saving on labor costs.

The township road district employs Wojtasiak, four equipment operators, a foreman/mechanic and an administrative assistant. Krieger said the city would need to hire three equipment operators to take on the extra 16 miles -- as well as other city streets the township had been plowing and maintaining under a separate agreement.

Krieger said adding the equipment operators would help the city adequately maintain streets in the northwest section of the city, where Joseph Sheahan lives in an unincorporated area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sheahan said he and his neighbors object to the road services agreement because they fear losing Wojtasiak and the responsive service he provides.

"He listens. He works with us and he will outright tell us, 'It's not in the budget, I can't help you,' or he'll say, 'I'll get the guys out there and they'll take care of it,'" Sheahan said. "We are fearful of just turning over our money with no actual way of being assured that it's going to be used for the purposes that it's being taxed for."

Krieger said township trustees would sign the agreement so that no matter what happens with Wojtasiak's office, unincorporated residents will have elected officials to be their voice if problems arise.

Residents in 866 homes affected by the proposal would see a decrease in the frequency of leaf collection, brush collection and street sweeping services, and the end of free mulch delivery. Other road-related services are proposed to continue at about the same level.

Naperville Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra said contracting with the city could help lower property taxes and elected officials owe it to residents to examine ways to govern more efficiently.

"I hope that there will be a mutual exchange on the proposal from the two government entities," Ossyra said.

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