To the Editor:
Illinois' 7,000 units of government have created multiple layers of inefficiency that place an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers. In an effort to reduce the size, scope and cost of local government, I have initiated legislation in Springfield that would provide DuPage County with new tools to achieve incremental reform.
Senate Bill 494 would allow county leaders to make the tough choices necessary to eliminate wasteful and redundant layers of government when it has been determined to be in the best interest of taxpayers. A recent assessment of county-appointed agencies revealed many opportunities for shared services, consolidation and in some cases dissolution. These 24 agencies account for nearly $300 million in tax dollars, employ approximately 900 people and provide basic public services such as sanitary, mosquito abatement and street lighting.
Through the assessment, we found examples of obsolete taxing bodies, such as the Timberlake Estates Sanitary District that had not provided service to residents of unincorporated Downers Grove for nearly 30 years. Despite the fact that the county took over operation of the sanitary district in 1985, the taxing district still appeared on property tax bills with a zero levy.
For two years, I worked with DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin and our public works division to obtain a super-majority approval from the residents to eliminate the antiquated district. After obtaining enough support, we filed a petition in court requesting the dissolution of the sanitary district, which was recently approved by a DuPage County judge.
Another unique taxing body is the Century Hills Street Lighting District that maintains the street lights in a subdivision in unincorporated Naperville. The district's three trustees meet annually to pass a $15,000 levy to pay for the subdivision's street lights and agree that the responsibilities could easily be transferred to another unit of government that provides similar services. Unfortunately, we do not have the authority to take the necessary steps to consolidate the service with another entity without passage of legislation.
SB494 is essential to our reform agenda as we pursue new ways to reduce the costs of local government and develop a more efficient service model for taxpayers.
I urge residents to contact their state representatives to request their support of SB494. By working together, we can redesign government that truly benefits taxpayers.
DuPage County Board Chairman