Island Lake is a small community of little more than 8000 residents. On the surface, it looks like any other lake town. It was founded primarily as a vacation getaway for Chicago residents wanting a respite from the city. The lake is a man made marvel and the jewel of the town. The city hall is located in an old brick grade school which houses a day care, the administration, and the small police department. It is also where the village meetings occur.
According to the Village website this last fiscal year has been fraught with legal woes. Several employees were paid settlements and legal fees were incurred. The State of Illinois is four months behind in payments totaling $240k to the village. The total cost in settlements is $90k, $150k payout to retiring police officers, and more than $250k in legal fees according to McHenry County Blog. For a village of a little more than 8000 residents, that’s a lot of money.
Why is it costing so much? In a nutshell, the board voted to stop paying the town’s long time lawyer. Mayor Debbie Herrmann and the firm protested stating that Illinois statute gives mayors not trustees the power to hire a town’s lawyer. The trustees voted to hire another firm; the Mayor vetoed the vote. The Trustees overrode her veto, then, proceeded to pass ordinances stripping away her powers. The Mayor sued the trustees. Now the village has two law firms on the taxpayer dole.
As of right now, the Trustees and the Mayor were considering Mediation. Mediation will cost another $3,200 deposit to yet another law firm. The goal is to find a resolution that will prevent this from costing even more taxpayer dollars. However, according to the most recent meeting on June 9th, 2011 no one was willing to move forward with mediation.
Either the courts will determine the ultimate outcome or taxpayers will protest how poorly their tax dollars are being spent. According to the village website, borrowing from the water fund is up for consideration. Residents do not have to wait until the next election to make their voices heard.
The next scheduled Village meeting is July 14th, 2011 at 7:30pm at 3720 Greenleaf Avenue Island Lake, IL 60042. You may contact them via phone or email at 847-526-8764 and firstname.lastname@example.org