Money pit

Opinion: Editorials

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Unable to come to a settlement, the Lyons Township Treasurer of Schools and Lyons Township High School District 204 will argue their cases at trial in December to determine how much money, if any, the school district will have to pay to the township treasurer's office (TTO) for work the township office never performed.

The TTO, an obsolete government agency that exists only in Cook County, tried to claim that the school district owed it about $4.5 million in fees during the past two decades. The school district says it doesn't use many of the TTO's services and had a deal with a former treasurer to handle many of the services itself, negating the need to pay the TTO for them.

Six years ago, the TTO filed the first of two lawsuits seeking payment from LTHS for those unused services, resulting in more than $2.5 million in legal fees – more than $2 million of it spent by the TTO -- that are being paid by taxpayers in Lyons Township.

Now a judge has ruled that due to a statute of limitations, the TTO can, at most, lay claim to about $1.9 million in unpaid fees. The judge wasn't guaranteeing that reimbursement, just setting the limit on what the TTO can even ask for.

So, for those keeping score, the TTO is now suing for less money than it has spent in legal fees for this case. Instead of continuing to pick the pockets of Lyons Township taxpayers to justify its existence, the TTO ought to dissolve itself and save taxpayers and school districts the headache of having to deal with them.

Failing that unlikely event, we once again call on state legislators representing Lyons Township to pave the way to allow voters to put the TTO out of business. Their services, perhaps once a boon to fledgling school districts dotting the late 19th century prairie, are no longer needed by districts led by experienced administrators, including finance managers.

This lawsuit, which will change nothing about the need for the TTO's existence, is a futile attempt to demonstrate the agency's relevance. What the lawsuit has proven, however, is that the TTO it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and the court's time.

Even in victory, should that even happen, the TTO's lawsuit is a money loser.

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