Politicians reject consolidation reforms for East St. Louis
Lawmakers missed an opportunity to provide relief for taxpayers struggling in East St. Louis.
East St. Louis residents can expect to see little, if any, relief on their property taxes in 2016.
The Illinois General Assembly failed residents of East St. Louis this legislative session by not passing two bills that would have reduced government bureaucracy in the area and saved taxpayer dollars.
House Bill 0126 would have dissolved the East St. Louis Board of Election Commission and combined its functions with the County Clerk’s office. House Bill 0174 would have allowed nonhome-rule units of government, or those that cannot pass ordinances without explicit permission from the state, to be dissolved by a local referendum, and its functions be absorbed by another unit of government. Both of these bills, which were introduced in the General Assembly in January 2015, would have reduced the administrative cost of government to local taxpayers. However, neither of those bills passed. In fact, they never even made it out of committee.
Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, introduced HB 0174, a similar proposal as to how Belleville successfully dissolved its township. The bill would have allowed the East St. Louis Township to be similarly dissolved and its functions absorbed by the city, which governs over the exact same area.
By consolidating the township with the city, the city would have been able to provide the same services to the community, just at a lower cost to taxpayers. In fact, the township’s only function is to administer the General Assistance program to lower income people who have no dependents and receive no other government assistance. In 2015, the township spent $1.12 million, and only 18 percent of that money went toward community assistance programs. The rest went toward administrative costs and administrative salaries, including the township’s supervisor who earns $65,000 per year, and the trustees who each earn $10,245 per year, as well as other staff members.
Dissolving these unnecessary layers of government would have given East St. Louis taxpayers savings they desperately need, considering they are already bearing the weight of such high property taxes. In fact, some property taxes in East St. Louis have reportedly increased as much as 200 to 400 percent, which is especially burdensome considering 45 percent of the city’s residents already live below the federal poverty line. East St. Louis residents simply cannot afford to pay for redundant layers of government from which they receive no added value.
East St. Louis is an example of how unneeded local government bureaucracies are packed with waste and unnecessary spending, all at the expense of the taxpayers. Illinois elected officials need to take serious steps to reduce the waste in government and implement real cost savings measures for taxpayers. Looking to Belleville’s example of consolidation is a great place to begin.