Despite vehement objections by the only member of the Illinois House whose entire constituency resides within the boundaries of McHenry County (Rep. Steve Reick of Woodstock), members of the House of Representatives approved legislation on Thursday that would provide almost no due process for the elimination of township government in the County’s 17 townships. The provisions of HB 4637 apply only to McHenry County.
If signed by the Governor, officials in McHenry County Townships, by gathering a very small number of citizen signatures, could put a binding question on the ballot that asks voters if their township government should be eliminated and its responsibilities transferred to the County. The legislation did not address what would happen to important general assistance programs upon which many lower income township residents rely. Twenty-one of the McHenry County Board’s 24 members are on record as being opposed to the bill, claiming the County is not in a position to assume township duties.
“The sponsors of this bill are taking advantage of political upheaval in one township in Illinois to bring this upon one entire county in Illinois,” Reick said. “If this bill is so good, why was it not written to apply statewide? If the townships are so burdensome upon the taxpayers of McHenry County, they’re certainly just as burdensome to the taxpayers of every other county in this state. I suspect the lead sponsor knew he could not garner the support he needed if he asked his colleagues to place these new rules upon their own constituencies.”
Reick said he will be speaking to Governor Rauner about the legislation and will remind him of the near-unanimous opposition to the bill by members of the McHenry County Board.
Click here to view Reick’s floor comments.