Northern IL County Could Abolish Townships
April 21, 2018
By Cole Lauterbach
One Illinois county is a step closer to giving voters the power to abolish townships.
Voters or the county board in McHenry County in northern Illinois would be able to more easily get a question on a ballot about dissolving their local township, should state Rep. David McSweeney’s bill become law. Voters would be able to get a dissolution question on the ballot after gathering 5 percent of the total number of voters that cast ballots in the last comparable election, compared to the 10 percent they currently are required to submit.
The county board, led by its Democratic Chairman Jack Franks, a consolidation proponent, would be able to put a question on the ballot via a vote. McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said the existing process for dissolving townships doesn’t allow for the dissolution of only one township in a county at a time.
“It’s next to impossible to actually eliminate township government,” he said. “All that I’m trying to do is give the ability to citizens to actually consolidate government.”
State Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, opposed the bill, saying there is already a process to dissolve townships.
“There is a method to do that right now if those residents within the township so choose,” he said.
Others in the House were critical of the bill during a recent hearing, saying there should be more study done to see if consolidation of townships would actually save taxpayers money.
The bill would also abolish any road districts in McHenry or neighboring Lake County that manage less than 15 miles of road, to which McSweeney said there were five.
DuPage County acted as the pilot program for to allow for an easier path to consolidation.
Critics see Illinois’ townships as an unnecessary layer of government in urban areas where most of the residents are served by county and local municipal governments.
There are more than 1,400 townships in Illinois.
The measure passed in the House and now awaits a Senate vote.
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