An informed group of Lockport Township voters and myself have been active in observing the antics of our township government for the last two years. At the 2015 Town Hall Meeting the Board presented to the electorate a proposal to build a new six million dollar building. We rejected it by a vote of 150 to 40. Numerous voters address the board that night and told them that they did not want a new expensive building, senior center or an expansion of township government.
Seven months later the Township Board bought a former church building with no public notice that was over three times larger than their existing facility. Legally they could do that without our input because they bought it with cash reserves. Ethically it smack of a lack of transparency. No surprise there with a failing grade of 31% from the Illinois Policy Institute.
Before the 2016 Annual Town Meeting our group work hard to draft a petition to add four items to the agenda, obtained 100 signatures and filed it with the township. The township board rejected our petition in whole and refused to place those items on the annual town meeting agenda. The items that we wanted the electorate to vote on were requiring the board to pay off a $565,000 judgment, conduct a space utilization study for their needs, have the Secretary of State office to digitize the assessor’s records at no charge and halt any work on the new building until the completion of the space utilization study.
We could have challenged their decision in court, but the money for legal fees was not available. We felt that by providing positive and commonsense solutions to the board our group was avoiding a negative perception.
Yes, the new twenty-five thousand square foot building is over three times bigger than their old offices, but along with that comes higher expenses in the form of utility bills and maintenance. Of course, now the board is looking for ways to fill up the building and expand the role of township government. Our small and peaceful protest at the ribbon cutting was our way of telling the board that some voters want a transparent, smaller and limited township government.
My only disappointment was that all the politicians present avoided any contact with us and did not seek any input from us. Elected officials are supposed to represent all of us.