Belleville Township trustees to consider May 2017 abolishment

The Belleville Township board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday to consider an ordinance that would dissolve the township in May 2017.
The Belleville Township board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday to consider an ordinance that would dissolve the township in May 2017. News-Democrat file photo

In a move designed to cut overhead costs, the Belleville Township on Tuesday will consider an ordinance to shut down the township on May 15, 2017.

The board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Township Hall at 111 W. A St.

The proposed ordinance calls for the Belleville City Council to approve an ordinance accepting the duties and responsibilities of the township by Aug. 1. If the city doesn’t meet that deadline, the township’s dissolution ordinance would be revoked.

October 1885Date Belleville Township was founded

May 15, 2017Proposed date for dissolution of the township

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation in August allowing the township to be abolished by the trustees without a vote of the general public. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, and state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, later joined as a sponsor to give the bill bipartisan support.

Hoffman said case law from Illinois court rulings indicate that elected officials have a right to complete their term when a taxing body is being dissolved. In order to accommodate these rulings, Belleville Township couldn’t dissolve until the four-year terms end for trustees elected in 2013.

“Certainly you would like to see it happen sooner rather than later but the law is the law and you have to abide by it,” Hoffman said.

Kay said “if there is a mandate that they have to stay, well that’s fine.” He also added, “I think the intent of the legislation was to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Township Trustee Michael Hagberg said if all five members of the township board simply quit, that would trigger a law that says a board member who leaves the board must be replaced within 60 days.

Hagberg calls the vote on Tuesday “another step in the right direction.”

The township, which has the same borders as the city of Belleville except for few sites recently annexed by the city and was founded in 1885, is tasked with providing assistance to needy individuals. Recipients typically get $245 a month in gift cards to discount stores or help in paying rent.

The township’s proposed ordinance states the city of Belleville would have the authority to levy property taxes in the same manner as the dissolved township. Under the township’s latest property tax levy request, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an estimated $23.40 in township property taxes.

Hagberg has estimated that the township has about $660,000 in reserves that could be transferred to the city.