To the Editor:
The Northwest Herald recently highlighted the administrative changes undertaken by the Village of Lakewood to reduce the cost of the municipal government. Yet, I wonder if an even more efficient approach was considered by either the Village Administrator or the Village Board: Municipal Consolidation with the City of Crystal Lake.
There are multiple savings that could be realized by integrating the small adjacent village with a population of only 4,000 with Crystal Lake's 41,000 residents. Consider the savings that could be realized by the integration of the Village Administration, Finance Department, Police Department, Fire Department, and Building & Zoning Department, together with the Public Works functions which include sewer and water utilities, street maintenance, forestry, fleet maintenance and engineering. Of course, the elected and appointed boards would also have to be integrated and past animosities would have to be put aside.
The economies are attained by placing all of these services under a single manager instead of two. Departmental personnel and equipment could also be more efficiently utilized and financed by a shared property and sales tax base, resulting in improved service for less cost for the consolidated community. Isn't this an outcome we taxpayers all desire to achieve? As a bonus we would have common goals in the planning of land use and infrastructure for westerly expansion, ultimately achieving the considerable mutual benefits of community consolidation.
Yet, politicians unwilling to lose their power and residents fearing their loss of autonomy typically oppose government consolidation.
Twenty years ago Australia embarked on a program to consolidate communities throughout the nation. Despite the political opposition from the directly affected local parties, the consolidation was imposed by the state. The result has been so successful in bettering government services and reducing costs that a second round of consolidation is now being considered with considerable public support.
I strongly urge both communities to work together toward consolidation. Let us be an example for all of Illinois to demonstrate what is possible for our city governments when pursued with good will.
David P. Albers