ORLAND TOWNSHIP – A referendum on the November ballot will let residents of Orland Township explore whether the township and its communities should secede from Cook County, and decide what kind of message they want to send to Cook County leaders about the state of the county.

Orland Township residents have raised the question of whether or not they should leave Cook County and annex their communities into adjacent Will County, in which western portions of the village of Orland Park and southern parts of the village of Tinley Park already lie. Orland Township includes portions of the communities of Orland Hills, Orland Park and Tinley Park, with both Orland Park and Tinley Park in Will County, leaving only Orland Hills entirely in Cook County.

Orland Township borders Will County on its south and west for 6.6 miles, so the move could be natural for the township.

“Will County, from where I am now in Orland, is a 15-20-minute drive,” Paul O’Grady, supervisor for Orland Township, told the Cook County Record. “They have a courthouse. They have a jail there. They have what we need and it’s much closer.”

Taxes are the main driver to move to Will County for both residents and businesses, with businesses bearing the brunt of it by having separate tax rates, set in two counties, in the same municipalities, O'Grady said.

“We are already at a disadvantage because some of our businesses are in Will County and (others) are in Cook County,” said O’Grady. “It’s an unfair competition, if you will.”

By adding the question to the November ballot, the discussion will start for the residents of the township, who hope to send a clear message to Cook County legislators that they are not satisfied with the current state of affairs.

“I think the most important issue and the most relevant issue is that we’re sending a message to our Cook County representatives and the Cook County Board that you’re hurting us by continuing to raise taxes,” said O’Grady. “The tax-and-spend attitude of the Cook County Board doesn’t work for Orland Township.”

The move to add the question to the referendum was started by a small movement within the township that brought it up at the annual town hall meeting and asked that it be added to the November ballot.

“It’s not a big movement,” said O’Grady. “It’s not a well-organized movement. It’s a grassroots movement of individuals that are voicing their concerns with the tax-and-spend attitude of Cook County.”

If the vote is successful, the township will move to discussions with Will County on whether the change is a possibility for the residents who inhabit Cook County in this municipality.

“We would sit down with one of the Will County executives and see what the real possibilities of doing something like this are,” said O’Grady.

With no speculation on the popularity of the referendum, O’Grady said, “We’ll put it to referendum and we will see what the will of the people is. I don’t know if it’s a slam dunk at the end of the day.”

But, he added, “I think there is good reason to explore the question.”

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