Consolidation of government in Illinois

http://bcove.me/vss2kj35 Video on consolidation

 Justin Kmitch 1/8/2016

 spending

A state task force on Monday released more than two dozen recommendations for stopping the proliferation of governments in Illinois — which has the most in the nation — and finding ways to consolidate some of those that already exist.

Along with recommending a 4-year moratorium on adding new taxing bodies, the 406-page report by the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force also calls for giving residents the ability to consolidate or dissolve local governments via referendum and encourages local governments to share equipment, facilities, training and resources funded by state and federal dollars.

In addition, the report calls for steps that could lead to consolidation of some townships and gives government agencies more leeway in dealing with unions.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti presented Gov. Bruce Rauner with 27 recommendations to make government more efficient at a meeting of the DuPage County Mayors and Managers Conference in Oak Brook.

The report, resulting from 11 months of work by the task force, outlines a structural reform of state and local governments. With 6,963 government units, Illinois far outpaces all other states. The next-closest state, Texas, has 5,147.

“The idea is to give power back to our local leaders and local residents so that you and I can determine what is best for our communities rather than big government,” Sanguinetti said. “We’ll be pushing these issues to make our state more streamlined, effective and efficient.”

Rauner created the task force last February with the aim of finding efficiencies and ways to streamline local government functions to save taxpayer dollars. The task force held 16 meetings across the state and reviewed state laws pertaining to local governments and school districts.

Sanguinetti said the report, prepared with help from Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies, “will not be a study that just collects dust.”

“In a few days you will see that the study has feet because I will be going to communities near you, working with task force members, because we have a lot of problems to tackle,” she said.

The study shows Illinois residents pay higher taxes than necessary to fund “multiple layers of state and local government.”

It says Illinois has the second-highest effective property tax rate, the fourth-highest state and local wireless tax rate, and the fifth-highest combined state and local gasoline excise tax rate, to name a few.

Rauner called the report a “critical document” presented on “one of the most important days in the history” of Illinois.

“Today is a great day for the taxpayers of Illinois. We can transform our state through this effort,” he said. “This document, if we implemented it, the recommendations here could save billions of dollars every year for the people of Illinois. This is major, major transformation were talking about.”

Roselle Village President Gale Smolinski, who presides over the DuPage mayors group, said it will be reviewing the report in detail and “working … to develop legislation that serves in the best interest of the residents of DuPage County.”

Word of the report, however, had not yet reached several townships Monday afternoon. One recommendation of the report is to end limiting townships to 126 square miles, an impediment to mergers. It also suggests, in some instances, eliminating all elected township assessors and replacing those posts with one countywide assessor’s post.

Milton Township Supervisor O. Chris Heidorn, who oversees a township with 118,000 residents including all of Wheaton and Glen Ellyn, was not yet aware of the report Monday afternoon but said it “sounds important” and that he would “delve into it soon.”

Elk Grove Township Supervisor Michael Sweeney, who represents portions of Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows, said he needs time to “absorb the report and its recommendations.”

The full report is posted at www.illinois.gov.

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