A statewide commission looking to reduce the number of unnecessary governing bodies in Illinois passed several measures in Peoria today. The Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force task force overwhelmingly supported measures that include putting consolidation decisions before voters in 2016.
Gov. Bruce Rauner set up the task force in February to recommend ways to trim the number of local governing bodies in the state.
The group met at the Peoria Riverfront Museum Monday where it was standing room only. Several task force members say it was their most highly-attended meeting. One particular item of contention is whether to eliminate or consolidate townships in the state.
Some local officials say having fewer townships runs the risk of decreasing efficiency, it’s unfair to bodies with balanced budgets, and there isn’t research to support that more units of government means more expense.
Critics also say consolidation efforts pit rural communities against metro governments. The task force's chairwoman, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, disagrees.
“We’re here to have a discussion on possible consolidation, intergovernmental agreements and streamlining services, so with that being said, I think it’s very healthy for all of us,” Sanguinetti said.
U.S. Census Data says there are nearly 7,000 units of local government in Illinois, the most in the country. The task force aims to prepare a proposal for Rauner and the General Assembly by the end of the year.