A bill in Springfield would allow counties across Illinois to do the same things that have saved a suburban Chicago county more than $100 million since 2011.
In 2011, lawmakers in Springfield gave DuPage County the ability to consolidate units of local government with appointed leaders. New legislation headed to the House floor would give that ability to counties statewide. Any consolidation effort would be voted on via countywide referendum. The bill would not allow a county to dissolve school boards or other large elected bodies.
Northern Illinois Democrat state Rep. Sam Yingling, the bill’s sponsor, said he wants the rest of the state to see the savings that DuPage County has achieved.
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“What Chairman Cronin has done in DuPage County sets a very strong example of the cost savings that can be achieved on a local level,” Yingling told the House Counties and Townships Committee on Wednesday.
DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin said taxpayers have saved more than $100 million by consolidating three units of government, and the county is planning to consolidate three more. He said consolidation efforts are about changing the culture of government, not firing local workers.
“When people talk about consolidation, it’s not glamorous, it’s talking to folks and reassuring them that they have a model here that can do more for them at less cost,” he said.
Opponents of the bill, such as lobbyist Terry Steczo with the Community of Mental Health Authorities, said it would leave valuable services vulnerable to economic swings.
The bill passed out of committee and is headed to the House floor for a full vote.
Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government, more than any other state.