- Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the state of Illinois report: “Delivering Efficient, Effective and Streamlined Government to Illinois Taxpayers”
The state of Illinois is making a push to let voters decide whether to eliminate some levels of local government.
Chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, the Task Force on Local Government and Unfunded Mandates recently completed a report titled, “Delivering Efficient, Effective and Streamlined Government to Illinois Taxpayers”
In that report, the task force voted to endorse 27 recommendations. The following is a short summary of the 12 recommendations related to consolidation referendums. The next article will present summaries of the task force’s 15 unfunded-mandate recommendations.
(1) Enact a four-year moratorium on creating new local governments. (Considered on June 24, 2015; Proposal passed 21-1-0.)
(2) Empower Illinois citizens to consolidate or dissolve local governments via referendum. (Considered on June 24, 2015; Proposal passed 21-1-0.) This would set a maximum petition signature requirement of 5 percent of votes cast in the last general election to bring forward a referendum relating to the consolidation or dissolution of a local unit of government.
(3) Expand DuPage County’s pilot consolidation program to all 102 counties. (Considered on June 24, 2015; Proposal passed 21-1-0.) This would give counties the authority to dissolve or consolidate government units whose boards are appointed by the county. (Public Act 098-0126)
(4) Allow all townships in the state to consolidate with coterminous municipalities via referendum. (Considered on Oct. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 14-0-1.) This would be the same authority that was granted to voters in Evanston Township to hold a referendum to consolidate the township into the city of Evanston.
(5) Remove the limitation capping a township size of 126 square miles. (Considered on Oct. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 14-0-1.)
(6) Allow counties to retain their existing form of government following a successful referendum to dissolve townships into the county. (Considered on Oct. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 14-0-1.) Current law requires any county that dissolves its townships into the county to change its structure to commission form of government and cap the number of County Board members to five.
(7) Hold taxpayers harmless from township consolidation. (Considered on Oct. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 14-0-1.) This would allow county-board or citizen-initiated township consolidation referendum to peg the year one local tax rate among consolidating townships.
(8) Allow counties with fewer than 15,000 parcels and $1 billion in Equalized Assessed Valuation to dissolve all of the elected townships assessors and multi-township assessment districts into one newly elected county assessor position and office — by majority vote of the county board or via citizen-led referendum. (Considered on Oct. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 14-0-1.)
(9) Protect the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act. (Considered on Nov. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 15-0-1.) This encourages local governments to continue to coordinate service offerings through intergovernmental agreements.
(10) School District Consolidation: Provide the Illinois State Board of Education flexibility to incentivize outcomes of school district consolidation. (Considered on Nov. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 15-0-1.) School district consolidation can lead to enhanced academic offerings, K-12 curriculum alignment and improved administrative efficiency, the report says.
(11) Encourage state agencies — when allotting discretionary state and federal funds to local governments — to encourage regional sharing of public equipment, facilities, training, resources and administrative functions. (Considered on Nov. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 16-0-0.) Local units of government can achieve significant savings through consolidation and sharing of services, assets, personnel and function, the report says. State agencies should be empowered to incentivize good government, intergovernmental cooperation.
(12) Allow merger of general township road and bridge districts that maintain less than 25 miles of road. (Considered on Nov. 19, 2015; Proposal passed 12-0-4.) Current law requires township road and bridge districts with less than 5 miles of road to consolidate into the general township. The proposal would allow consolidation at fewer than 25 miles.
Conclusion and Next Steps
In its “Conclusion and Next Steps” section, the report suggests that a “one-size-fits all” solution won’t work and divides Illinois into three “sub-state” areas, based on certain types of counties:
- The “Chicago Metropolitan Area,” which includes Kane and other collar counties
- “Downstate Metro Counties” with large cities
- “Remote, Rural Downstate Counties”
See the full report for distinctions between and next steps for those three areas.
SOURCE: State of Illinois, “Delivering Efficient, Effective and Streamlined Government to Illinois Taxpayers”
NEXT: Summaries of the 15 unfunded-mandate recommendations.