Costly and unnecessary lawsuit

December 13, 2013 

Caseyville Township leaders' seemingly narrow-minded views about group homes and disabled people have cost township taxpayers $60,000.

Township officials could have worked with the nonprofit Cerebral Palsy of Southwestern Illinois on its two group homes and charged the single-family residence tap-in fee, but they refused. That meant a $12,800 expense for the group rather than $2,575. Township officials also charged the homes the commercial sewer rate rather than the lower residential rate.

They might have gotten away with it except some trustees apparently let their big mouths pave the way for a federal discrimination lawsuit. According to court records, trustees made comments such as the residents "don't know up from down," and "these people don't belong here." If that's correct, that was an inexcusable display of ignorance about people with disabilities.

The terms of the settlement say the township is not admitting guilt, but what else would you call it? In addition to the $60,000, the township agreed to refund the $10,225 difference on the tap-in fees and charge the group homes the lower residential sewer rate.

This didn't need to happen. It's an expensive lesson and taxpayers are stuck with the tab.

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