The idea of consolidating governmental services is usually a good one, and that's why we look kindly on the April 4 referendum question seeking to merge the Lisle and Naperville township road districts into a single unit.
Supporters say the merger would continue road maintenance savings already being achieved through an intergovernmental agreement approved in August between the two districts. They say the merger could save an estimated $800,000 to $1.4 million a year on services such as snow plowing, street sweeping and brush collection.
The merger would be phased in over four years to give highway commissioners and township supervisors time to evaluate their properties, equipment and reserves, sell what they determine is no longer needed and organize governance of the new district. In 2021, voters in both townships would elect a single highway commissioner to oversee the combined unit, which would maintain roughly 64 centerline miles of road -- 48 in Lisle Township and 16 in Naperville Township.
Even supporters admit this is not a perfect plan, and there will be bumps along the way. Tax rates for road services in Naperville Township, for example, will go up, although officials say they will work to mitigate that increase by selling assets and drawing down reserves during the transition period. In the meantime, taxes in Lisle Township will actually drop.
We're sure other challenges -- some unexpected -- also will emerge. That's often the way when you try something new.
But in the end, this is an experiment in consolidation worth pursuing. We urge a yes vote.