As the House returns from its month-long break, a plethora of bills are on the docket, including one that would allow downsizing of one form of local government.
House Bill 4968, introduced in February by Dixon state Rep. Tom Demmer, would amend the state’s Township Code, allowing townships that share the same boundaries of a city to consolidate.
Brad Cole, executive director for the Illinois Municipal League, supports HB 4968. He says allowing townships and cities to consolidate would cut red tape and save residents money.
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“It definitely will remove one layer of government,” Cole said. “Whether that’s functionally or just on the books, the efficiently that would be created will be beneficial for the taxpayers.”
Cole adds that cities with townships may have the same elected body that sit in separate meetings and by allowing consolidation they can dissolve one governing body, saving taxpayers money.
“It would clarify what programs are provided by the municipality versus those that are provided by the municipality or the township,” Cole said.
The bill follows a report released in January by the governor’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force that recommended allowing Illinois townships to consolidate with municipalities covering the same boundaries, give voters the option to consolidate via referenda, and enact a four-year freeze on creating new local governments.
According to data from the U.S. Census of Governments, Illinois ranks first in the nation with number of local governments at more than 6,900, double the size compared to neighboring states like Missouri and Wisconsin.
HB 4968 has been assigned to the House Committee on Counties and Townships. Its next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.