Rauner allows Illinois township to eliminate itself

Rauner allows Illinois township to eliminate itself

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature authorizing Belleville Township to dissolve highlights a flawed process that prevents consolidation in a state that desperately needs it.

Illinois has too many units of government – nearly 7,000 local taxing bodies, far more than any other state in the country. House Bill 3693 puts the wheels in motion to dissolve one of them.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed this bill on Aug. 28, which would allow the dissolution of Belleville Township under a vote from the township board. According to a report from The Associated Press:

“Trustee Joy Schreiber told the Belleville News Democrat that less than a fourth of the township’s spending for the year was on its only duty, which is general assistance.

“Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook says if the township board votes to dissolve the township, the Belleville City Council must pass an ordinance accepting the township’s responsibilities.”

HB 3693 is a step in the right direction – but the process by which Belleville Township has to get permission to dissolve is an obstacle to reducing the number of governments in Illinois. No state procedure exists by which local voters can eliminate a single township, meaning the state has to specifically authorize every single taxing body’s dissolution.

Voters can only act to rid an entire county of townships at once, and it’s almost impossible. In order to place a binding referendum on the ballot, advocates must collect petitions signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in each of the county’s townships – all in 90 days.

In 2014, voters in Cook County’s Evanston Township voted to disband after the Illinois General Assembly passed specific legislation authorizing the vote, marking the first time a township had been eliminated since 1932. The village of Evanston took over its functions.

There’s a lot more work to do to bring the number of governments down to size. A resident living in Buffalo Grove, for example, pays into 18 local taxing bodies.

In suburban DuPage County – with a population of nearly 1 million people – there are 203 government entities. In Nevada, with a population three times that size, there are just 198.

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