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Government

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin eyeing statewide implementation of ACT Initiative

As budget season goes on in DuPage County, there have been several mentions of County Board Chairman Dan Cronin's Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative.

The initiative is aimed at streamlining and reducing local government and already has spearheaded the dissolution of three government agencies, required stricter ethics rules and saved millions, according to county estimates.

But despite the frequent political name-dropping of the push, there has been little public movement on it in recent months.

However, Cronin said there is more coming and potentially on a much wider stage.

On Nov. 2, he and other officials across the area will come together at the University of Illinois at Chicago for the Efficiency Advantage: Stories of Collaboration & Innovation in Local Government conference.

"We feel an obligation to take this experience and put it on the stage – not to pat ourselves on the back – to show people, 'This is what we're doing, here's the handbook, let's celebrate it and let's do what we can to change the culture,'" he said.

Cronin said he believed the approach could be brought statewide not only through the attitudes of lawmakers, but also through the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandate Task Force headed by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and the expansion of a key law allowing DuPage to dissolve units of government with county-appointed boards deemed redundant or defunct.

He also said the previously announced concept of a voluntary, regional fire organization to pool services and cut costs had limited results. Though fire districts and departments had yet to band together across the entire county, existing partnerships such as the West Suburban Fire Alliance had embraced the shared system even further than they had already.

There also was continued work on the possible streamlining or eliminating of several more entities: the Century Hill Street Lighting District in Naperville, Highland Hills Sanitary District in unincorporated DuPage County near Lombard and the Salt Creek Sanitary District in Villa Park. All three were among the 24 agencies identified in the state law allowing the county to dissolve units of government.

Currently, the lighting district collects $17,000 each year in local tax levies to pay for the infrastructure costs of maintaining 77 street lights. Cronin said the county was working with the residents who created the district to see how they wanted to continue.

"We're making progress there," he said. "A lot of it is very door to door and localized effort."

Cronin also felt encouraged about the other two potential ACT candidates. The county expects staff to deliver a full report on both in a matter of months and as early as the end of this year.

"We think it's a desirable, good thing to do more with less, but a lot of people don't talk about it," he said.

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