Naperville Township Officials Discuss Referendum

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Naperville Township and Lisle Township residents voted in 2017 to merge their two road districts into one government body.

“The previous referendum passed in 2017 says what we’re obliged to do at the moment is to create a third road district in place of the existing two,” said Richard Novinger, highway commissioner for the Naperville Township Road District. “Lisle Township Road District [and] Naperville Township Road District would merge into a brand new consolidated road district.”

But a new referendum on April 2 could put that merger into jeopardy.

The referendum asks, “Shall the road district of Naperville Township be abolished with all the rights, powers, duties, assets, property, liabilities, obligations, and responsibilities being assumed by Naperville Township?”

If voters choose yes, Novinger said there would be no Naperville Township Road District to merge. He also said there will be little to no change in services or taxes imposed on township residents.

“I think it’s clear-cut in my mind,” said Novinger. “It’s simply that Naperville township road district will no longer exist. Instead there will be a Naperville township highway department that’s part of the township.”

However, not all parties feel the issue is that straightforward.

“I don’t know which one takes precedent,” said Ed Young, highway commissioner for Lisle Township Road District. “The one in 2017 and [then] the elimination of Naperville Township Road District on this ballot are supposed to occur at exactly the same time.”

Naperville Township Supervisor Eddie Bedford told voters merging with Lisle Township would likely cause a 50 percent tax increase for Naperville Township residents, while Lisle Township residents will see their taxes decrease by 22 percent.

But both highway commissioners felt those numbers didn’t capture the full picture.

“If you just merged the two or averaged the two then Lisle Township’s would go down and Naperville Township’s would go up. But this doesn’t account for any consolidation savings that would occur because of the merger,” said Young.

“The new district would have to create new insurance coverage, new bank accounts – everything has to be redone and there’s costs involved in doing that,” said Novinger. “Lisle Township’s facilities are on the far east side of their township and my facilities are on the far west side of Naperville Township. Most likely you’d have to look for a new location for a combined township.”

Those who attended the forum to discuss the issue on March 11 felt the biggest issue was the confusing wording of the question.

“I had to think about it though and when he put the slide up again and then explained it, I though I definitely would have voted wrong,” said Naperville Township resident Teresa Alesia.

State law requires the referendum to be worded that way, but Novinger attempted to simplify the question:

“If a resident of Naperville Township wishes for Naperville Township Highway Department services to remain independent and to avoid a tax increase due to proposed consolidation in 2017, vote ‘yes’ in the referendum. If you don’t care about your taxes going up, vote ‘no.’ ”

If voters agree with Novinger, his position would be eliminated.

This was the final public forum on the issue and voters will decide on April 2.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.