With urge to merge, River Forest trustees invite township to the table

Sloan OKs talks but expresses concerns

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By Deb Kadin

Contributing Reporter

River Forest village officials may soon sit down with their township counterparts to gauge the impact that a potential merger of the two entities may have on the village.

Village trustees Monday unanimously directed Village Administrator Eric Palm to have in-depth discussions with Township Supervisor Carla Sloan and others to learn among other things, about township services, delivery of programs and costs associated with programs. Officials also want to discuss any legal implications related to a possible consolidation. Plus, they want to find out how much can be saved and if that money might be used to provide additional services.

In addition, the village wants to speak with the township about what might happen during a transition period, what that would look like and what it would entail.

Currently River Forest Township is an autonomous government entity with elected officials and taxing power. Its service areas include youth, seniors, mental health and general assistance (welfare).  

The impetus for the discussion comes as a bill allowing for merger by referendum could soon start winding its way through both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. It is uncertain when hearings would begin, said State Rep. Chris Welch (D.-7th), the legislation's principal sponsor, who added that the bill would likely be assigned to the Cities and Villages committee. 

"We have a lot to learn," said President Catherine Adduci, who supports the measure. "We have a lot of time to have this conversation."

The township is willing to discuss these issues and continue amicably working with officials, Sloan said.

However, Sloan expressed concern with how this current round of discussions began and said the village should have gone about this topic in a different way. She said conversations should have been on an amicable and informal level before the bill — which is specific to River Forest — was introduced in Springfield. Sloan wondered about the circumstances or atmosphere under which the township was being asked to come to the table to provide information so that someone could make the case for township elimination.

"Don't be working with Rep. Welch on legislation for eliminating the township. Those aren't very good working conditions," said Sloan who opposed the measure. 

There is no indication of when discussions would commence.

If the bill gets out of Springfield and is signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, River Forest trustees would have to approve an ordinance placing the question on the ballot. That measure could appear on a ballot as early as the November general election or it might be delayed beyond that date.

If approved by voters, consolidating both entities would mean that the village, after a transition period of 180 days, would administer all programs and services currently handled by the township and assume oversight of all township assets, including the River Forest Community Center on Madison Street. The role of the township elected officials also would end. 

CONTACT: Deb@oakpark.com 

Reader Comments

12 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

It Doesn't Take a Brain Surgeon  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 7:39 AM

The less government, the better.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 4:29 PM

@James, If you've followed my comments on these WJ news articles over the last year or so, you may notice that I add info, as well as glean info. Some of the info given by commenters is valid, and some of the info is not. And sometimes, they raise more questions, which the reporter may find helpful when writing future stories, to address such holes in the story. In addition, an online community exists here, where we thoughtfully and respectfully share ideas. Thank you for your contribution.

James from River Forest  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:09 PM

@Bridgett...if you don't know how RF works, why are you commenting on this blog? The RF Township does not perform any of those services. They are performed by other entities. RF residents pay for those services AND we pay twice...once for OP to mange those services and second for RF to manage those services. It does not take a brain surgeon to understand that you don't pay twice for something. Less government not twice government layers.

Greg from RF  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 9:22 AM

There is this misconception out there that the elimination of these services at our local level eliminates them in total. They do not. Also be aware of the backdoor referendum that the OP and RF township enjoys since other G bodies in RF pay them directly for services. Those needing service will still get it without a middle-man which is the township. Save $125K in building and personnel costs...I say YES YES YES.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:05 AM

I don't know how RF works, but in OP, the Township and Village Hall fill two very different needs. How would the Village be able to provide the services that the Township offers without hiring people to do it? So all it would be, is shifting the tax needs from one taxing body to the other. How would this save the property owners any money on their tax bill?

CG from River Forest  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 11:49 PM

The village is bricks and mortar concern. The Township is people. They are very different and serve well the different needs. In our town they work well. If you move the township over to the village, you will kill important services to these people. There are volunteer boards that serve the needs of at 3 risk groups, youth, seniors and mental health. We need the township.

RF Achievement from River Forest  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:02 PM

@Jean....How do you know there was not many conversations prior to this bill being submitted. The question you should ask is how many times did the Township turn down those conversations! If you ask, you will be surprised.

Township watcher from River Forest  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 4:08 PM

If we consolidate the township with the village, the taxpayers will realize about a 25% savings on the annual township tax levy. We will no longer have to pay salary and benefits to the township supervisor, her assistant, the township clerk as well as the building manager that the township now pays to manage the community center building. All told, it is a savings of about $125,000/year. Sure seems worth it to me.

Matt  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 3:42 PM

What bothers me is that the village board seems to be in favor of eliminating something they know next to nothing about. Outside of supply ordering consolidation, payroll and HR centralization where would the savings be? What would be the savings from those three items? I have yet to hear of any problems with the townships and their budgets. I'd hate to see their budgets cut in order to make up for problems in other village areas.

muntz  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:35 AM

@Jean - No one is suggesting ending these important services. This is an effort to consolidate these services under one level of govt. The township is an unnecessary level that needs to be eliminated. IL has the most units of local government of any state in the country...50% more than CA and 33% more than TX. Township functions are mostly redundant to services provided at either the county or municipal level. Why OP doesn't consider doing the same thing is beyond me.

Jean Meister from River Forest  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:14 AM

Isn't this a conversation that should have occurred before a bill eliminating the township was filed? RF Township is the primary local funder of senior services as well as supports for people with mental health needs and developmental disabilities. It fills an important role and operates efficiently.

Greg from RF  

Posted: February 12th, 2014 9:57 AM

So I have lived in RF for 20 years and never once I have received information from the Township. Then I go to my mail yesterday and there is an 8 page color brochure. Wow! Where did they get the money and why now? Could it be they know they have little use and fear their end? Very telling.

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