Local officials come to understanding in area plowing controversy

The village of Palatine Brindge held a special meeting on Friday to discuss plowing done by the town of Palatine. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

PALATINE BRIDGE — The village board held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss issues concerning snowplowing for the two villages— Palatine Bridge and Nelliston — that is performed by the town of Palatine.

The special meeting was originally called so Palatine Bridge officials could discuss strategies for the winter plowing following a heated argument between Mayor Jim Post and Supervisor William MacLauchlin that occurred at the town’s regular meeting Aug. 29 that led to MacLauchlin threatening to end the snowplowing and salting services to the villages.

Post said he met with MacLauchlin Thursday afternoon prior to the special meeting and now has a better understanding of where town officials stand regarding the plowing.

“After today’s meeting, [MacLauchlin’s] comments and concerns [were about] collecting and dividing up the taxes collected from the two villages in regards of snowplowing,” Post said. “The real quick scenario is the taxes were gathered to take care of snowplowing in the two villages. But the taxes were put into the general highway fund and not divided up into a separate fund, which basically is what the law says you’re suppose to do to cover the expense of plowing for the two villages.”

Post said MacLauchlin’s main concern was making sure the town’s taxes are being gathered correctly and how they’re being distributed to pay for plowing is correct.

Based on the town’s previous budgets, the town had a shortfall in the amount they were getting for snowplowing, and in 2018, there was a surplus.

“If you average out those three years, there is still a surplus value of what they collected and what the true cost is to pay for the plowing,” Post said. “[MacLauchlin] said he wants to fix all that.”

In order to solve the issue, MacLauchlin will have to have approval from the town board and get a decision from the state as to how to proceed with the surplus funds.

Once the town’s budget issues are solved, it will be up to the two villages if they want to continue receiving plowing services from the town.

The two villages would have the options to cease plowing services from the town, plow village roads themselves or hire a private contractor; continue services and be taxed by the town; or continue service without being taxed by the town and tax themselves, then pay the town through a contract.

Also brought to the board’s attention was that both villages are being charged the same rate, but because the village of Palatine Bridge’s assessment is close to $10 million higher that Nelliston’s assessment, Palatine Bridge is paying more than Nelliston.

“There’s a question to whether that can be corrected,” Post said.

The issue with the plowing services for the two villages began with whether the town would need to buy a new plow truck or not, which was discussed at the town’s July 24 meeting.

At that meeting Highway Superintendent Arthur Logan said that if the town doesn’t plow village streets, the town won’t need to purchase another 1-ton dump truck, however, if the town is going to continue with the plowing services, they’ll need the truck.

Post said the next step is for the town is to figure out what to do with the surplus and to get answers from the state to see what they can legally do with the surplus and once the budget issues are solved, the two villages need to decide where to go.

By Kerry Minor

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