The BGA hosted an Idea Forum on government consolidation at National Louis University in Lisle, Illinois on Monday, February 24, as part of its efforts to promote the "Smart Streamlining" of government units in Illinois.
Moderated by Madeleine Doubek, Chief Operating Officer of Reboot Illinois, the panel featured a lively discussion and question and answer session between DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, Illinois State Representative Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Township Officials of Cook County Administrative Coordinator Bob Porter and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Director of Government Reform, Brian Costin.
Cronin said DuPage County officials are trying to determine if the services delivered by 13 local governments can be delivered in other ways at lower costs to taxpayers. Welch said he’s proposed legislation that could merge River Forest Township with the Village of River Forest because many of his constituents have asked for the opportunity to make such a change in order to save tax dollars. Porter said he supports consolidation in some cases, but he warned that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to government efficiency or the delivery of services. And Costin noted that Illinois has too many layers of government for citizens to effectively monitor and the result could be higher taxes and more corruption.
The BGA regularly hosts Idea Forums to engage and educate the public on a wide range of good government issues. "Smart Streamlining," which tops the BGA’s 2014 legislative agenda, is an effort to advocate for the public’s ability to consolidate or dissolve units of government found to be inefficient or ineffectual.
Illinois leads the nation with nearly 7,000 units of government, about 2,000 more than much larger states like Texas and California. The BGA kick started its "Smart Streamlining" campaign in January at a meeting of Springfield civic and business leaders who are considering a variety of ways to create more cost-effective local government. The BGA will return to the Springfield area in the spring to host another Idea Forum on government consolidation.