Homer Glen, township in dispute over donation
Homer Glen’s mayor is upset that Homer Township is not complying with a village policy to not accept donations from any person, group or business involved in litigation with the village.
But the township supervisor said the township should not be held to a policy that is not its own.
When Homer Harvest Days was held last month, a joint effort by the village and township, it was financially backed by at least a dozen local businesses — including $500 from Illinois American Water, a donation that has angered Mayor Jim Daley.
The village, along with Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Lemont and Woodridge, is in a legal battle with the water company in an attempt to take over its water lines in hopes of stabilizing water rates.
The township accepted that check and a previous one for a fireworks show during Homer Community Fest, according to village officials.
“It is not a good idea to take money from someone you are suing. How do you explain that to the judge?” Daley said.
The donations policy, unanimously adopted by the village board in March, states that Homer Glen officials and employees and members of its commissions and committees will “not seek or accept any event/festival sponsorship assistance, either financial and/or in-kind, from any business or organization involved in litigation with the village either directly or with an intergovernmental agency” to which Homer Glen belongs.
Since Homer Harvest Days and Homer Community Fest are joint efforts by the village and township, Daley expected township officials to go along with the village policy, but they declined.
“If we co-sponsor an event, how can the township accept money when our ordinance prevents us from doing that?” the mayor said. “Water is the No. 1 issue out here for our residents.”
When asked if he would consider dissolving the village’s partnership with the township for these events, he said, “I don’t know.”
Homer Township includes all of Homer Glen and an area of Lockport.
Township Supervisor Pam Meyers acknowledged that Daley sent a letter, asking the township board to not accept money from those in litigation with the village, but “if you refuse money for an event you could burden the taxpayers. Why penalize the residents? It’s not like (Illinois American Water) is making a political contribution.”
“We want to work with Homer Glen and Lockport and minimize the burden on our taxpayers,” Meyers said. “All our residents benefit from mutual agreements. Our board does not want to take sides in this. We don’t want to be in a battle with the village. We cannot always take the side of Homer Glen. We represent Lockport, too.
“It is very uncomfortable for our board (because the five towns’ lawsuit) does not directly involve (the township),” she said. “We are not a party to the lawsuit, and we don’t want to be.”
Illinois American Water donates to, and participates in, several events in Homer Glen and other villages it serves, including Bolingbrook, said Michael Smyth, senior manager of field services and production for the company’s Chicago Metro District.
“We feel it is very important to give back to the communities we serve. It’s one way of being a good neighbor,” he said, noting that donations typically are between $500 and $1,000.
The company has provided about $70,000 in grants to fire protection districts throughout Illinois including $1,500 grants to the Homer Township and Northwest Homer fire districts.
It also supported several Homer Township Chamber of Commerce events, which earned it the chamber’s “business of the year” award last year.
“Homer Glen is the only community we serve in the state that has such a policy,” Smyth said. “We cannot make contributions to the village, but we will continue to reach out to the chamber and township and any others we can help.”