Lisle Township opposing effort to scrap Naperville Township road district merger

 
 
Updated 2/8/2019 4:38 PM
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Lisle Township trustees are opposing a referendum question that could scrap a previously approved plan to merge their township's road district with another unit of government.

Residents in Lisle and Naperville townships in 2017 approved a measure to combine their road districts to form one agency. The consolidation is scheduled to take effect in May 2021.

But Naperville Township officials have since put a question on the April 2 ballot asking voters if they want to follow a state law that would allow the township government to absorb the Naperville Township Road District.

Naperville Township officials say they believe the outcome in April would supersede the vote from two years ago.

But Lisle Township trustees say the new measure, if approved, would "produce a contradictory and conflicting result." This week, they unanimously passed a resolution opposing Naperville's Township's proposal.

"It was important to show our support for what our voters have chosen for the future of consolidation," Lisle Township Supervisor Mary Jo Mullen said. "I understand what Naperville Township is doing for their residents. But it doesn't change the fact that our residents wanted consolidation of the two road districts.

"Therefore, we felt it was really important to stand up for our electors and show our opposition because of what was already chosen by our voters."

Eddie Bedford, Naperville Township supervisor, said he was still reviewing Lisle Township's resolution on Friday.

While he didn't comment directly about the nonbinding resolution, Bedford said he understands why Lisle Township officials are unhappy about the new ballot question.

"I suppose if I was in the same situation, I would be opposed to it, too," Bedford said.

After all, Lisle Township residents are expected to save money if the consolidation happens. But Bedford said the plan would increase taxes for Naperville Township residents.

According to 2017 tax levy figures analyzed by Naperville Township, the owner of a $400,000 house in Lisle Township paid $89.19 to the road district. The owner of a house of the same value in Naperville Township paid $45.73 in road district taxes.

If the two levies were to be added and averaged without any cuts or changes, the owner of a $400,000 house in the merged district would owe $68.80. That would be a $20.39 decrease for Lisle Township residents and a $23.07 increase for those in Naperville Township.

Meanwhile, a state law took effect in January 2018 that says townships can seek voter approval to absorb road districts into the rest of township government.

"If I did not take any action with the new law -- with the 50 percent increase in our road taxes -- I think I'd be negligent and not representing the township and the people that voted me into office," Bedford said.

"We're giving the Naperville Township residents the opportunity to voice their opinion," he said.

But Lisle Township officials say the decision to put the new question on the ballot was made without consulting them.

Lisle Township Highway Commissioner Ed Young said he tried to work with the Naperville Township highway commissioner on the consolidation plan, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

While Naperville Township residents will vote April 2 on the new plan, Mullen said no one knows with certainty that it can replace the previously approved merger. "There's no official legal opinion on that, as far as I know," she said.

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