Naperville Township cuts road budget after no deal reached with city

  • Naperville Township resident Peter Bejda shows his opposition Tuesday to a proposed road services deal between the city of Naperville and the Naperville Township road district for maintenance of 49.3 lane miles of unincorporated streets.

    Naperville Township resident Peter Bejda shows his opposition Tuesday to a proposed road services deal between the city of Naperville and the Naperville Township road district for maintenance of 49.3 lane miles of unincorporated streets. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Stan Wojtasiak

    Stan Wojtasiak

  • Rachel Ossyra

    Rachel Ossyra

 
 
Updated 5/11/2016 11:39 AM

Naperville Township Highway Commissioner Stan Wojtasiak said he no longer will meet with the city of Naperville about a possible road services agreement after township trustees reduced his budget Tuesday night by a 3-2 vote.

Trustees cut the budget for the township road district to $2,075,005 from the proposed $2,619,330. Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra said the decision means trustees think Wojtasiak can maintain 49.3 lane miles of township roads for less than his budget spelled out.

 

"The board of trustees hereby refined and determined that much of the road district's budget is not necessary," Ossyra said. "Using the revised numbers for each line item that has been reduced, the road district can provide the needed services."

Trustees Kerry Malm and Janice Anderson joined Ossyra in voting for the reduced budget, while trustees Bob Wegner and Paul Santucci opposed.

The $544,325 cut from Wojtasiak's budget mirrors the roughly $500,000 the city says it could save the road district in a nine-month stub year of a nearly five-year agreement in which the city would provide road maintenance, landscaping and snow plowing services.

Wojtasiak said he intends to challenge the decision in court to seek reinstatement of his full budget for the fiscal year that began April 1 and lasts until March 31, 2017.

Approval of the decreased budget came three months after the city of Naperville made an offer to handle road services for unincorporated township streets. The early proposal claimed it could save $800,000 a year from the township's $1.8 million spending in fiscal 2015, but the city now estimates the deal could save $700,000 a year because of increases to the frequency of street sweeping, leaf collection and brush pickup.

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Wojtasiak said he's not convinced of the savings and he worries a deal would be unsustainable.

"I can't believe this board would be vindictive enough to force me into an agreement that's not beneficial to all the taxpayers," he told trustees before they voted on his budget. "If my budget gets tampered with in any way, there will be no more conversations, no more talks, no agreement, no signature."

Trustees heard mixed opinions from residents and city officials.

Eleven speakers in favor of the city assuming township road services praised the move as an example of government efficiency.

"The city of Naperville has made an aggressive proposal that saves real money -- a benefit to every Naperville taxpayer and Naperville Township taxpayer," incorporated resident Scott Wehrli said.

Thirteen speakers opposed to the deal questioned the motives of the city officials who are pushing for it, the savings the deal could provide and the possibility of involuntary annexation that Mayor Steve Chirico said should be considered if a deal cannot be reached.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Incorporated resident Scott Julian said he thinks annexation is the city's underlying goal in a grab for more property tax money. Unincorporated resident Lynne Nolan said the whole idea seems like government consolidation for its own sake with no real benefit.

If Wojtasiak indeed refuses further negotiations with the city, it could have the effect that Wegner called for before he voted against the road district budget cut -- a delay. With so many conflicting cost comparisons, Wegner suggested the sides involve a neutral third party to analyze expenses and come to a complete understanding.

"Why don't we sit on this for a while?" Wegner said. "There's a lot of disagreement in this room."

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