McHenry County Board gives letter to Rauner opposing McSweeney's township consolidation bill

21 of 24 County Board members against it

McHenry County Board members Jim Kearns and Michele Aavang speak before a meeting in February 2017. Kearns recently gave a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner's staff signed by 21 of the board's 24 members opposing state Rep. David McSweeney's proposed bill that would allow township officials to put a binding referendum to voters asking whether the township should be eliminated and consolidated under the umbrella of county government.[]

Gov. Bruce Rauner has received a letter with the signatures of more than 20 McHenry County Board members opposing a proposed bill that would make the path to township elimination easier.

Rauner spent part of his Saturday at an invitation-only roundtable with members of the McHenry County Republican Party.

A focus of discussion was House Bill 4637 – a proposed consolidation bill from state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills.

If approved by the governor, officials in McHenry County’s 17 townships would be able to put a binding referendum to voters asking whether the township should be eliminated and consolidated under the umbrella of county government.

McHenry County Board District 6 representative Jim Kearns gave a letter to Rauner’s staff signed by 21 of the board’s 24 members opposing the measure.

“We respectfully request that HB 4637 be permanently put on hold until our county can minimally address the financial burden to McHenry County, its municipalities and, most importantly, the taxpayer, prior to ever passing this legislation,” the letter read.

Kearns said county officials don’t have a map to guide them through consolidation.

Rauner spoke in general terms about the bill and commented that he usually does not support bills that focus on one county in particular. He prefers legislation that carries statewide effect, GOP sources who attended the meeting said.

Word got back to McSweeney, who attacked Rauner’s stance on the bill, which passed the House, 80-22.

“Nobody trusts Gov. Rauner in Springfield,” McSweeney said. “His word means nothing.”

McSweeney highlighted Rauner’s visit with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board in February.

The governor spoke to the board for 30 minutes about property taxes, pensions and why voters should be able to consolidate or dissolve local governments at the polls.

“It’s ironic that then he meets with extremist [Republican Party Chairwoman] Diane Evertsen and by the end of the meeting, at least from the people I spoke with who attended the meeting, leaned toward vetoing it,” McSweeney said. “I’m going to continue fighting for the taxpayers.”

Rauner’s campaign declined to comment on the details of the meeting.

“Gov. Rauner held a group meeting with elected officials and GOP leaders who were all elected by local voters,” Rauner communications director Will Allison said in a statement.