Alton Township survives consolidation referendum

Alton Township survives consolidation referendum

Alton Township was on the chopping block Nov. 6. While neighboring communities consolidated unnecessary layers of government, Alton residents will keep their township.

Townships are Illinois’ oldest form of government, and Alton voters Nov. 6 elected to keep their 143-year-old township.

Of 8,319 ballots cast, 57 percent of voters opposed eliminating Alton Township. The township shares borders with the city of Alton, and its main duties are providing aid to community members and conducting property assessments.

For the current fiscal year, the township budgeted $383,340 and $159,396 for its assessor’s office and supervisor’s office, respectively, and appropriated $154,564 for general assistance. But officials have observed that more township funds are going to administrative costs than to the delivery of services.

“We’re spending more money in administration fees – for personnel – than the money going out to help people,” Alton Alderwoman Carolyn MacAfee told the Alton Telegraph in April.

The township’s 2018 audit showed township spending at $904,722 – nearly $22,400 more than the township took in. Trustees struggled to balance its current budget, according to the Alton Telegraph.

Had voters eliminated the township, its duties would have been absorbed by the city or county. The elected assessor, who earns an annual salary $66,163, and supervisor, who earns $64,209, would have served out their terms prior to the consolidation process. City aldermen would have forfeited the $400 they collectively earn doubling as township trustees.

Madison County has nine townships whose properties are assessed by the county assessor. Alton Township is one of 16 townships with its own assessor.

In August 2017, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 3, which allowed Illinois communities to hold referendums on whether to dissolve or consolidate townships. Godfrey and Alton put township elimination measures on the ballot.

All told, Madison County voters had four chances Nov. 6 to consolidate local government.

  • While Alton voters stuck with their township, neighbors in the village of Godfrey did not. Voters eliminated Godfrey Township, which shared borders with the village. Officials expect the measure to save $89,000 annually.
  • Countywide, voters merged the office of the Madison County recorder of deeds with the county clerk’s office.
  • Voters dissolved the Collinsville Area Recreation District, which had accumulated $21 million debt since its creation in 1991.

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