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Eliminating duplicates from Illinois’ 6,968 layers of government

Belleville News Democrat

Wednesday, April 5, 2017  |  Editorial  |  By The Editorial Board

Local Government (60)
On Thursday we will see Oliver W. Hamilton sentenced after using East St. Louis Township as his personal ATM, so what better way to celebrate than by eliminating some excess, corruption-prone townships.

The Illinois House almost unanimously passed a bill last week to allow voters or a township board to dissolve township governments when they are mainly reflections of a local city’s boundaries. Belleville Township will cease to exist May 15, but it took a multi-year effort, a state law change, a study group and two board votes to get it to go away. This bill would make eliminating others easier.

None of our local lawmakers signed on as sponsors to House Bill 496, but they supported it. State Sens. James Clayborne, Bill Haine, Kyle McCarter and Paul Schimpf should get behind the version of the bill currently before them, then Gov. Bruce Rauner should sign it.

East St. Louis Township fits the definition for elimination. Granite City Township also fits the definition. But getting a government unit to put us out of its misery is a much harder job than getting the voters to agree to kill a township.

With 19,071 registered voters in East St. Louis Township, just 1,908 voters would need to sign a petition to put its demise on the ballot. Granite City Township would need 1,867 voter signatures.

Townships with borders that mirror local city boundaries are a waste of taxpayer dollars and serve no real purpose. The excuse that they provide some senior recreation or hand out general assistance is expensive government in search of a purpose, not a public need worthy of public support.

With 6,968 local government units in Illinois, we need to shed and combine as many as possible rather than continuing to ask taxpayers to shell out more.