Township consolidation referendum to appear on Alton ballots

Township consolidation referendum to appear on Alton ballots

Alton voters will face two referendums that could eliminate government layers at both the township and county levels.

The fate of Alton Township will be placed in voters’ hands Nov. 6.

Included on Alton general election ballots will be a referendum asking residents whether to eliminate the township. If voters choose to dissolve Alton Township, the city of Alton will perform the township’s duties and services. Alton Township’s borders directly overlap with the city’s.

The referendum question will read, “Shall the Township of Alton cease?” and give voters a “yes” or “no” option.

Alton leaders in May started the process to potentially dissolve Alton Township. Their resolution stated the City Council “recognizes that there are significant potential cost savings to the taxpayers of the city of Alton by eliminating Alton Township, because Alton Township is coterminous with the city of Alton.”

In August, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 3, which allowed Illinois communities to hold referendums on whether to dissolve or consolidate townships.

Townships generally perform three services: property assessment, road maintenance and general aid. When a township and city share borders, the township usually has no roads to maintain and sometimes does not perform assessments.

In 2016, the Belleville City Council voted to consolidate Belleville Township with the city, becoming the first municipality in southwestern Illinois to approve such a measure. At the time, Belleville leaders estimated local taxpayers’ savings at around $260,000 annually by eliminating a government layer with the sole function of handing out limited aid to about 40 needy people a month.

According to the Alton Telegraph, other Madison County townships that have “traditionally” been coterminous with their municipalities include Godfrey, Collinsville and Granite City. Some of those boundaries have since changed, however.

Alton residents will also vote Nov. 6 on a consolidation referendum posed by the county. That referendum will ask voters whether to eliminate Madison County’s office of the recorder of deeds and transfer its functions to the county clerk.

Voters in the neighboring village of Godfrey also will face a ballot question asking whether to consolidate its township with the village.

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