Elimination of Alton Township could be placed in voters’ hands

Elimination of Alton Township could be placed in voters’ hands

Taxpayers in the city of Alton, which has identical borders to that of Alton Township, could see savings through consolidation.

In terms of dissolving unnecessary and wasteful units of government, voters in Illinois’ Metro East region appear to be on something of a mission: First, with the city of Belleville’s May 2016 absorption of Belleville Township, and then with the village of Godfrey commencing Godfrey Township’s abolition in March 2017.

Alton Township could be next on the chopping block, depending on the temperature of an upcoming public hearing on the matter.

Alton City Council voted unanimously May 9 to hold a public hearing on whether to include a township consolidation referendum in the next election, according to meeting minutes. Following the public hearing, which is scheduled to take place June 27, local lawmakers would have the option to adopt a resolution securing the consolidation referendum on the November ballot.

The Land of Lincoln is swaddled in nearly 7,000 layers of government – more than any other state in the nation. Among those layers are 1,400 townships, all of which enjoy the authority to levy property taxes to fund their operations. By consolidating Alton Township, local lawmakers could take a necessary step toward property tax relief.

As with Belleville Township and Godfrey Township, Alton Township’s geographical borders are coterminous with the city. In other words, they almost overlap with one another. Because of this repetition, according to the Alton Telegraph, Alton city aldermen perform double-duty as Alton Township trustees. While this aspect might control costs to some extent, the offices of township supervisor and township assessor, complete with their own personnel, perform services that might be more efficiently handled at the city or county level.

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

For the current fiscal year, according to the Telegraph, the township assessor’s office and supervisor’s office were budgeted $383,339 and $159,395, respectively, while $154,564 was appropriated for general assistance. In the event that voters approve dissolution of the township, the assessor and supervisor, both elected by voters, would be required to complete the duration of their terms before their offices could be consolidated. The share of city aldermen’s income derived from their role as trustees would be eliminated in the event that the township was discontinued, according to the Telegraph.

By dissolving Belleville Township and absorbing its functions, the city of Belleville captured $260,000 in annual taxpayer savings. Alton officials should follow this lead and carry the torch for the Metro East region’s recent run of taxpayer-friendly consolidation measures.

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