Cronin talks government consolidation at Sanguinetti's task force meeting
DuPage County's government consolidation and improvement efforts were spotlighted at a meeting of Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti's state task force dedicated to the same effort Wednesday.
The purpose of the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force, which is chaired by Sanguinetti, is to identify ways to help local governments consolidate and get rid of duplicate governmental bodies, school districts and taxing entities.
The task force is also slated to figure out ways to reduce the number of state-imposed unfunded mandates.
One of the highlights of the meeting in Wheaton was DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin's presentation on the county's government consolidation efforts.
Cronin, who is a task force member, said that during his early career as chairman, he was informed that a county-appointed agency had misallocated millions of dollars in federal funds. A year earlier, he said, another county commission could not account for millions of dollars, as well.
"I got to the point where I couldn't sleep at night," Cronin said. "I didn't know what was going on out there with all these various county-appointed agencies, and I understood that the only connection between the taxpayers and the voters and the conduct of these appointed agencies was me."
In 2011, the county board undertook an evaluation of its appointed agencies, and even hired an accounting firm to complete the task.
Subsequently, in 2012, the county's Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative was launched.
"We sought to introduce best practices, improve efficiencies, reduce duplication and encourage resource sharing across county agencies and county government," Cronin said.
According to a progress report on the initiative, the county has completed several accomplishments since the initiative's inception, such as creating an online transparency portal that publicizes information regarding county-appointed agencies, and amending the county's ethics ordinance so that these agencies could adopt it.
Because of a state law approved in 2013, the county was also permitted to dissolve up to 13 county-appointed agencies.
DuPage County officials have so far dissolved a fire protection district and a sanitary district, Cronin said.
Cronin said he plans to introduce a resolution next week in Springfield that, if approved, would say legislators acknowledge that the current size, scope and cost of local government in Illinois may overburden taxpayers and have other negative consequences. It would also say they support consolidating or eliminating government agencies if appropriate.