Algonquin Township’s elected officials are the latest batch of politicians to prompt us to reiterate our long-standing call for abolition of township government.
Professional government can efficiently deliver needed services. Illinois’ township form of government, by the very nature of its structure, cannot. Townships have proven this time and again by serving as little more than political playgrounds that breed waste, patronage and nepotism.
Algonquin Township, in particular, has become an expensive embarrassment. The mounting legal bills. The camera controversy. The crying and calling the cops to try to settle personal political scores. The threats. The courtroom drama. It must end. If these positions were necessary, their officeholders wouldn’t have time for this endless stream of nonsense – they’d be busy working.
We’d call for all of Algonquin Township’s elected officials to resign if we thought the next bunch would be any better. But they won’t be. It’ll just be more political hackery unencumbered by any real accountability or oversight.
Political infighting that led to $734,431 in legal bills nearly bankrupted Grafton Township a few years ago. Palatine Township’s elected board members are so unruly they want to hire someone to help them get through meetings. As of December, the lawyer representing Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has billed the road district more than $200,000.
We support State Rep. David McSweeney’s effort to find a legislative solution to get rid of township government. It will be a challenge to change things in Springfield, with predictable opposition from township lobbyists and other entrenched interests.
Without change, we’ll continue to pay to support these townships that help keep Illinois the state with the most units of local government in the country.
McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, says he doesn’t see a solution for the turmoil in Algonquin Township.
“I don’t think it is fixable,” he said. “I think the solution is to eliminate it.”
He also said he plans to shine the spotlight on Algonquin Township, using it around the state as the poster child for the need to eliminate township government. We hope he is successful.
Townships in Illinois have three functions under the law. They provide general assistance to the needy, maintain township roads and assess property. These responsibilities can and should be shifted to municipal and county governments.
Illinois has almost 7,000 units of local government – far too many. Eliminating the state’s 1,431 townships would be a good start down the path of government consolidation and an end to embarrassing and wasteful township politics.