DuPage County taxpayers may save $100M by cutting government layers

DuPage County taxpayers may save $100M by cutting government layers

DuPage County consolidated seven taxing bodies to streamline government. The move will save $100 million for taxpayers over two decades.

Local government consolidation in DuPage County may save residents an estimated $100 million over 20 years.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin’s initiative eliminated or absorbed special purpose districts such as a street lighting office and an authority dedicated to organizing the county fair.

The county will maintain the same services for residents while saving millions, he said. Bloated local governments help push Illinois’ property taxes to the second-highest in the nation. Cronin said other municipalities should pursue consolidation, but he said he isn’t getting his hopes up.

“If all 102 counties in Illinois abolished seven units of government, it would be significant. But I’m not optimistic there are going to be meaningful conversations about this,” Cronin said.

Cronin’s outlook stems from failed bipartisan efforts to streamline government in the past. Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss pushed a consolidation bill in the General Assembly when he served in the Illinois Senate.

The bill would have granted any township the right to dissolve if approved by voters. The bill only failed because of lobbying by the Illinois Township Association. Biss then successfully pushed for a similar bill allowing only Evanston to consolidate.

Former state Sen. Susan Garret was in opposition to the former bill, saying what works in Evanston might not work elsewhere. That seems to argue for local voters having a chance to make those decisions.

Springfield City Council approved an advisory questions asking voters if they’d like the city to absorb Capital Township. The city and township share exact boundaries.

Illinois leads the nation in local government units with 6,032, not including about 850 school districts. In 40 states, residents live under no more than two layers of local government. In Illinois, 61% of homeowners live under three and some live under 16.

Most Illinois government models date from the 1800s. Empowering local governments and voters to decide what modern government and services should look like and how much they need is a major step in curbing property taxes that rank No. 2 in the nation.

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