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Townships host electors meetings

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CORTLAND – DeKalb County Landfill expansion opponents do not plan to ask Cortland Township for financial help in pursuing a lawsuit against Waste Management during today’s annual meeting of electors.

Cortland is one of DeKalb County’s 19 townships that will host an electors meeting today to give registered voters within their respective township the ability to directly vote on issues. Like Cortland, most townships only have routine items on the agenda, such as approval of minutes and future meeting dates for residents to vote on.

Frankie Benson, who is organizing Cortland residents interested in suing Waste Management to stop the landfill expansion, considered submitting an agenda item for the 6:30 p.m. meeting that would give residents the opportunity to vote on whether some township funds should be used for the $60,000 needed to pay for legal costs.

After speaking with township board members, Benson said she would not ask for township funds and would instead rely on private funding through her organization, the Cortland Township Electors Association. The organization has already raised about $20,000 and is planning other fundraising efforts, Benson said.

“We’re just trying our best to get it done as quickly as possible,” she said of fundraising efforts. “It’s a county issue, not just a township issue, so we are very grateful for any help.”

Although many townships do not plan to address major issues at their annual meetings of electors today, officials said they offer a rare opportunity for direct democracy.

DeKalb Township Supervisor Eric Johnson encouraged residents to come and experience a meeting where they, and not the board members, have the final word.

“There’s no hot-button issues this year, but it’s truly a direct democracy,” he said. “Residents get a direct vote and basically serve as the board.”

For the landfill expansion opponents in Cortland, time is of the essence. The Illinois Supreme Court could decide in May on whether it will hear an appeal from Stop the Mega-Dump against the landfill expansion. If the court does not hear the case, Waste Management would be able to begin expanding its landfill, which is south of Interstate 88 and east of Somonauk Road.

As long as there are pending legal challenges, no expansion can take place.

Township supporters argue there is language in state statutes that authorizes townships to deny garbage disposal within its limits. Cortland Township formally opposed the expansion during County Board hearings in 2010.       

The landfill expansion has been targeted as the funding source for a $27 million jail expansion project for the county to deal with major overcrowding issues. The landfill would generate the revenue by charging a tipping fee for accepting other counties’ trash.

Township contact information can be found in the 2013 Local Government Officials Directory at www.dekalbclerk.com

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