CONSOLIDATION GAINS MOMENTUM, BUT THERE’S MORE TO BE DONE
Illinois Policy Institute/
Illinois is taking small steps toward
consolidating some of its duplicitous local governments, but bold
reforms are needed to start addressing the state’s nearly 7,000 taxing
bodies, the most in the nation.
Illinois lawmakers are buckling
under immense pressure to reduce the number of local governments across the
state, which are a driver of the nation’s highest property taxes. But there’s
more to be done.
On Aug. 14 Gov. Rauner signed House Bill 607, now Public Act 100-0106, into law.
HB 607 would allow township boards to submit to voters a referendum to abolish
township road districts and for the township to absorb the responsibilities.
This, in conjunction with the recently signed Senate Bill 3, is a small but
positive step in the right direction toward reducing the number of redundant
layers of government in Illinois, and providing property tax relief to
taxpayers. However, there is more work that needs to be done for consolidating
units of local government.
Lawmakers should continue to increase taxpayer involvement in local government
consolidation. These new consolidation measures only allow for consolidation to
be initiated from township boards, which does not give taxpayers any more say in
the process. Since it is unlikely that township boards will initiate
consolidation, taxpayers need to be given the ability to initiate consolidation
The next steps should include reforms allowing residents to start a petition for
consolidation, which can then be submitted to voters as a referendum question
asking if they would like the township to be consolidated or dissolved.
Additionally, lawmakers should give municipalities the ability to initiate a
consolidation referendum. These are important steps to reducing the burdensome
number of governments in Illinois, which has caused Illinoisans to suffer high
[to top of second column]
In fact, Illinois has
nearly 7,000 units of local government – more than any other state
in the nation – and each of these units of government adds to
Illinois’ high tax burden. The average Illinois resident lives under
six layers of government, which in addition to townships and road
districts could include a city, school district and any other
special taxing district, such as a library district or a park
district. Some areas have even more layers of government.
What’s worse is that often times these multiple layers of government
are duplicative and do not provide any more value to residents.
Consolidating could save taxpayer money by allowing services to be
taken up by other units of government, such as the county, and
eliminating additional overhead and administrative costs.
Since property taxes are the main source of funding for local
governments, and with so many government entities, it’s no wonder
Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the nation.
Illinois residents need continued action from lawmakers to make
government more efficient and less costly, while helping to bring
property tax bills in line with what taxpayers can afford.
Click here to respond to the editor about this article