Illinois has 6,963 units of local government – more than any other state in the nation: Illinois Policy Institute report

November 13, 2013

A report released today by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute finds that at 6,963, Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the nation. The state’s extremely high number of government agencies is resulting in duplication of services, high local taxes and also creating barriers to taxpayers holding their local government agencies accountable.

The report found that taxpayers in part of suburban Elgin, for example, fund a staggering 16 different government entities. These include the city of Elgin, Plato Township, Kane County, a local school district, a community college district, a forest preserve, a road district, a cemetery district, a library, a water reclamation district, an airport authority, fire district, waste disposal district and three different transportation-related government entities.

“How could any citizen possibly keep track of what all 16 local government agencies are doing? They can’t, and that’s what is so dangerous about having so many layers of government in Illinois: citizens cannot possibly hold their governments accountable,” said Brian Costin, director of government reform at the Illinois Policy Institute and author of the report. “Illinois must do more to consolidate its numerous layers of local government. When government is so complex and convoluted, it is too difficult for citizens to actively participate in the decision-making processes that affect their daily lives.”

Here are some facts from the report, dubbed “Too much government: Illinois’ thousands of local governments”:

  • Illinois has 6,963 local government agencies.
  • The state with the next highest number of local governments is Texas, at 5,147.
  • Florida has 6 million more residents than Illinois, but has just 1,650 units of government. Taxes in Florida also are lower.
  • The average Illinoisan lives in an area with at least six layers of local government.
  • Redundant and excessive government agencies result in increased property taxes and create opportunities for corruption.