Residents in Naperville and Lisle townships will have the opportunity to weigh in on local government consolidation in April 2017.
A DuPage County judge approved adding a referendum question to the ballot asking voters whether they would like to combine two separate road districts into one unit of government, according to a report in the Daily Herald. This comes after Naperville-area voters’ recent support for cost-saving government consolidation: In November 2016, Naperville-area voters voiced their approval of such measures in their responses to two nonbinding ballot questions.
If approved, the Naperville Township Road District and the Lisle Township Road District would consolidate into one road district. All services would be performed by the new road district, as opposed to two separate government entities. The merger of the two road districts would happen over the course of four years, and a new district would be formed and voted on in the 2021 election. Currently there are no estimates on how much savings could be expected from combining the road districts. However, a previous consolidation proposal by the city of Naperville to take about 16 miles of roadways handled by Naperville Township estimated a savings of $800,000 a year.
Combining the two road districts would likely save taxpayers money on their property taxes because they would be paying for one less unit of government. Each layer of government adds costs, including worker salary and pension benefits, and other administrative expenses. This is especially a problem in Illinois, which has nearly 7,000 units of local government – more than any other state in the nation. In fact, the average Illinois resident lives under six layers of government, which often include special districts such as library and road districts, in addition to typical county and city government. As these layers of government are funded primarily through property taxes, it’s no wonder Illinois homeowners pay the highest property taxes in the nation – double the national average.
Getting the opportunity to vote on consolidation is a win for Naperville-area taxpayers. It represents one small step toward providing the property tax relief taxpayers desperately need. Other local government officials should follow suit and take steps to improve efficiency for their residents.