It is no secret that Illinois is home to the greatest number of government units in the nation, nearly 7,000. Following the passage of Senate Bill 3 in the summer of 2017, which made the process of consolidating units of local government easier, there has been renewed interested in streamlining government. That includes school districts. With 852 separate districts, Illinois comes in third, bested only by Texas and California, whose populations are more than double ours. While SB3 applies to townships and special districts, some legislators are continuing to explore ways to maximize efficiencies. State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa [...]
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The capacity of municipalities throughout northeastern Illinois to pursue their own local and regional goals varies widely — and is often insufficient. Factors such as staff and elected official expertise, financial conditions, tax base and policy, ability and expertise to prioritize investments, and more can affect a municipality’s ability to thrive. The consequence of this variation and insufficiency is that many communities simply cannot set or achieve goals, and face increasingly difficult barriers to overcome. The region is at a critical moment. Insufficient local revenue leaves little room for achieving planning objectives. The sheer number of government units in the [...]
Many Illinois municipalities are struggling to survive in today’s fiscal climate. A new paper outlines solutions. Part 1. The problem. Municipalities are the building blocks of government in the Chicago region. There are 284 municipalities in northeastern Illinois, with broad responsibility for infrastructure and service provision, including many of the front-line services—like police protection and road maintenance—that residents and businesses count on most. But nationwide, local governments face real challenges. Reduced funding from state and federal governments has forced municipalities to rely more heavily on locally generated revenue—particularly in Illinois, with fiscal problems among the nation’s worst. Compounding this, the [...]
From MPC’s perspective, variations in municipal capacity impede our ability to advance policies and practices related to basically all of our issue areas—reducing flooding, providing quality housing, investing in our infrastructure, and more. Josh Ellis examines this in detail, and articulates MPC's path forward. It’s safe to say that, among the 280+ individual cities and villages in northeastern Illinois, their capacity to get stuff done varies greatly, as do the reasons for that variation. Maybe it’s due to an insufficient tax base, or overdependence on one specific form of taxes, or, all too often, large amounts of debt. It could [...]
By the Better Government Association: Today we're taking a deep dive into an important government efficiency initiative in Illinois: streamlining and consolidation. This process enables local officials and voters to save tax dollars by reducing or eliminating overlapping, duplicative and unnecessary offices and units of government. Let's walk through a timeline of progress so far: 2012, September Illinois surges to almost 7,000 units of government, more than any other state 2014, January The BGA adopts ‘smart streamlining’ approach to combatting government bloat Example: Mosquito Districts Did you know that Cook County has four separate mosquito abatement districts that spend $11.5 million a year [...]
Illinois should have the best parks, libraries and fire protection among the nation’s 10 most populous states. That’s because local governments in Illinois collectively spent the most per capita on each of those functions among peer states during fiscal year 2015, the most recent year for which data were available, according to a Metropolitan Planning Council analysis of local government finance data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Perhaps Illinois simply values its parks, libraries and fire protection more than other states. And maybe the higher spending indeed means those services are better in Illinois than other states. However, MPC's [...]
The Metropolitan Planning Council’s Change Makers: Modernizing County Government in Illinois interview series addresses challenges faced by county governments throughout the region. DuPage County’s groundbreaking ACT Initiative, Illinois’ first of its kind policy agenda that prioritizes accountability, consolidation and transparency, serves as a model for Illinois communities and we are identifying the unique barriers that diverse localities are encountering in light of new reforms and efficiency measures. Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen granted the Metropolitan Planning Council the second interview in this series and spoke about what he perceives as the most prominent hurdles to government reform. Located West of [...]
The Metropolitan Planning Council’s Change Makers: Modernizing County Government in Illinois interview series addresses challenges faced by county governments throughout the region. DuPage County’s groundbreaking ACT Initiative, a policy agenda that prioritizes accountability, consolidation and transparency, serves as a model for Illinois communities and we are identifying the unique barriers that diverse localities are encountering in light of new reforms and efficiency measures. Chairman Frank Haney of Winnebago County (R) offered the first interview in this series. Haney spoke with the Metropolitan Planning Council to discuss current reform efforts in his jurisdiction. Located in Northern Illinois, west of Chicago, Winnebago [...]
Illinois has the most local units of government of any state in the country at as many as 6,963. SB3, or Public Act 100-0107, paves the way for consolidation of some of these local governments. The BGA’s policy unit supported SB3 and, with your help, called on legislators to do the same. Here’s what you need to know about the law. What does SB3 do? SB3 is a landmark move toward more accountable and efficient government in Illinois. It enables county governments across the state to consolidate units of local government under their jurisdiction by approving a referendum asking voters [...]
With approximately 7,000 units of government, Illinois leads the nation with the highest number of independent taxing bodies, many of which are repetitive and outdated in cost and administration. Members of the Transform Illinois coalition recently made strong cases for government consolidation at the Illinois General Assembly at an opportune moment when the state is in need of fiscal efficiency. Two key bills that would expand opportunities for consolidation and voter empowerment in these matters are currently pending in the legislature. On June 26, 2017, the House Committee of the Whole held a hearing on local government consolidation that featured [...]