Those who defend township government in Illinois say it’s needed because it’s the closest level of government everyday residents have access to.
In reality, township government is antiquated, spends a lot of taxpayer money, and is full of examples of blatant cronyism. The state’s 1,433 townships – 17 of which are in McHenry County – add another layer of government to a state with far too many layers of government.
As Illinois examines consolidating and eliminating levels of government, doing away with townships should be at the top of the list.
That’s why we are encouraged that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1585, which allows Evanston Township voters to formally abolish it. The bill also spells out the steps to turn over services and property if a township is eliminated. Supporters of eliminating townships say it was that uncertainty that scared away voters who were asked to support elimination.
Townships do provide some essential services, such as road maintenance, transportation for seniors, and food pantries for those in need. But for every beneficial service a township provides, examples of waste, inefficiency or inconsistency can be uncovered. Look no further than the process of assessing property or at the infighting in Grafton Township. Disputes over a new township hall cost taxpayers $566,070 in legal expenses from 2011-2013 – $260,421 of which was spent in 2011.
All of those services can be absorbed by the county or municipalities at a much lower cost and with more efficiency.
Longtime township critic Bob Anderson, a barber from Wonder Lake, has unsuccessfully tried eliminating township government in the past. He’s confident that since a transition plan has been established, his effort can earn more support.
We encourage Anderson to continue his efforts to eliminate township governments by letting the voters decide.