BGA hosting forum on government consolidation

Updated 2/20/2014 5:39 PM
  • Dan Cronin

    Dan Cronin

  • Andy Shaw

    Andy Shaw

When it comes to units of local governments, no other state can match Illinois.

Our home state has nearly 7,000 separate taxing bodies, ranging from counties to townships to fire protection districts.

And that's not a good thing, according to Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association.

"Illinois has a governmental obesity problem," said Shaw, adding that Illinois has far more taxing bodies than any other state. "We have created a bureaucratic monster in Illinois -- a government that is much too large, expensive and inefficient."

So the BGA is hoping to get Illinois residents involved in efforts to trim some of the state's huge number of local governmental agencies.

"It's time to begin consolidating, combining and eliminating units of government," Shaw said. "We're not suggesting that Springfield mandate this on local governments. We're asking Springfield to give the voters in local units of government the power to either combine with other units or eliminate the units."

Suburban residents interested in learning about the "smart streamlining" of government are invited to attend an idea forum and panel discussion that the BGA is hosting next week in DuPage County.

The free event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Public Forum Room at National Louis University, 850 Warrenville Road, in Lisle.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, state Rep. Chris Welch, township officials of Cook County administrative coordinator Bob Porter and Brian Costin, director of government reform with the Illinois Policy Institute have agreed to participate in the panel discussion, which will be moderated by Madeleine Doubek, chief operating officer of Reboot Illinois.

Topics expected to be covered during the forum include the elimination, merger and consolidation of redundant and out-of-date government taxing units, agencies and offices. The audience will be encouraged to participate.

"The goal (of the event) is simply to inform people about the situation," Shaw said. "Let them hear the pros and cons of different courses of action. We hope people will come out better informed on the issue."

Shaw said the BGA is planning to host a similar forum in Springfield. The group decided to have Monday's event in DuPage because the county has been focused on consolidation.

Earlier this month, the county board began the process to dissolve the Fairview Fire Protection District, which covers an unincorporated area near Downers Grove.

That decision was possible because state lawmakers gave DuPage the authority to eliminate up to 13 county-appointed agencies if they are found to be duplicative or inefficient.

On Thursday, Cronin said he's looking forward to participating in the BGA forum and talking about what DuPage has done and what it hopes to accomplish.

"I'm convinced that the BGA really is embracing this issue of consolidation," Cronin said. "They want to see results. They want to work with us, and they want to hold our experience out as an example."

Cronin said he believes consolidation is possible across the state as long as people push for it. "This is an issue that really needs to continue to develop," he said.

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