Ever hear of the Seavey Ditch?
Probably not, unless you've lived in Lake County for a while. It is a remnant of the county's rural past, created by farmers more than a century ago to remove stormwater around Vernon Hills, Mundelein and Libertyville.
The ditch has been updated and improved over the years and plays an important role in keeping stormwater runoff out of basements, but the Seavey Drainage District, the governing body that oversees it, long has been moot and is being dissolved. Finally.
Our point is not only to cheer the demise of a shadow unit of government that holds no meetings, levies no taxes, has no debts or assets and exists in name only.
It's also to stress this is the smallest of steps in the greater need to cull Illinois' nearly 7,000 government bodies -- tops in the nation by a wide margin. The effort to date has been long and arduous, and it moves at a glacial pace. There have been some successes in recent years, mainly in DuPage County, where board Chairman Dan Cronin has been an advocate of combining units of government whose functions are performed elsewhere or could be incorporated easily into existing structures.
And, in November, Vernon Township voters will decide whether to eliminate the position of road commissioner and the salary and benefits that go with it to save $107,750 per year. There's also been discussions in the legislature to create a process to dissolve township governments.
But, much work remains to reduce Illinois' government bloat and make the state more efficient and save taxpayers money. Seavey Drainage District is a no-brainer dissolution, but it still took years to accomplish.
The bulk of the ditch flows through Vernon Hills. Four years ago, village officials considered dissolving the district but didn't pursue it because of the legal time and expense.
State law allows Lake County to consolidate appointed units of government. Late last year, Seavey was identified as one of three agencies Lake County wanted to consolidate, eliminate or streamline as a local government over which it had appointment control.
The move was approved in the state legislature last week and awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature. Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor hopes it can now be a model and replicated in Lake County.
Don't worry about the future of the ditch without the district. The communities it serves have maintained it and made improvements for years.
"The dissolution of the Seavey Drainage District has no bearing on our activity," Mundelein Public Works Director Adam Boeche said.
In a state where property taxes are among the nation's highest, making government more efficient must be a priority.