Concerned Citizens of Lockport Township Group speaks out

LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP – Current Lockport Township leaders are responding to claims made by a resident action group that the township board also illegally serves as the Township of Lockport Utility Board.

Concerned Citizens of Lockport Township spokesman John Barbush said in a news release this week that the utility board is made up of appointed members of the current township board and has been operating with elected officials – the township board – also functioning as the utility board in an apparent violation of state statute.

“There’s a reason the Illinois township code has these rules and regulations,” Barbush said in the release. “It’s to prevent possible conflicts of interest and inappropriate actions. According to Illinois code, in regards to the utility board, this board of trustees is improperly functioning outside of this code, sadly.”

The state code does state that “any person holding an elective or appointive public office is not eligible for appointment to the utility board, and any person who has held an elective office or an appointive public office is not eligible for appointment for one year after the expiration of his or her term of office.”

In addition to his role with the resident group, Barbush also is vice chairman of Lockport Township Republicans.

Township Supervisor Ron Alberico noted Barbush’s involvement with the local Republican organization and said that the resident group is “doing everything they can to come up with stuff to make us look bad.”

Alberico and a slate of mostly incumbent Democrats are running against Ron Cornolo and a slate of Republicans in the township’s consolidated April election.

The resident group’s claim comes after a court case concluded in November regarding the management of the township’s water system. The case, in which the township will pay $625,000, stems from a breach of contract legal dispute between the utility board and township and Aqua Management Co.

The resident group’s news release said that the “result of the final judgment was reflected in the letter from the law firm representing Aqua Management. This letter was demanding full payment from Supervisor Ron Alberico. The judgment was in the amount of $525,000 to the Township Board under Alberico; and another $100,000 for Court costs and fees to the Township’s Utility Board, also under Alberico’s direction and control for at least the past six years.”

Alberico said the $625,000 is not from tax dollars, and it will be paid by water bill revenue.

“We paid $525,000 out of the town fund, and the water department will pay back the town fund. No legal fees came out of the town fund; it’s out of water bill revenue collected,” he said.

Alberico said the township’s water system was forced on it in the mid-1970s by the federal government with the building of the Fairview neighborhood. Since then, the township board always has served as utility board trustees.

“We were forced to oversee [the utility board]. It’s always been the same, and they’ve never had a problem with it until now – when they’re running against us in the election,” Alberico said.

He said townships typically do not deal with water, and Lockport Township would leave it “in a minute” if it could. He said there might have been a “vendetta” years ago between township leadership and Aqua Management. Alberico was not on the board when the court case began.

“We have to follow the law,” Alberico said of the case. “We had to clean up what was left on our plate.”

 

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/03/30/lockport-township-supervisor-responds-to-utility-board-allegations/ab1fa7d/

LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP – Current Lockport Township leaders are responding to claims made by a resident action group that the township board also illegally serves as the Township of Lockport Utility Board.

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