Editorial: DuPage perseveres to take a step toward efficiency
It takes time and perseverance, apparently, to save taxpayer dollars and be more efficient in providing a needed service to the public.
Good for DuPage County residents that Dan Cronin has that kind of perseverance. He's touted for years and we've supported for years the notion that government consolidation is one of the best ways to reduce inefficiencies and save money. He's made it a central part of his tenure as DuPage County Board chairman. This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner provided Cronin a win in his quest when he signed a bill that allows the DuPage County Clerk to take over election duties and dissolves the DuPage Election Commission, effective Jan. 1.
It can't come soon enough as the last three election nights in DuPage have had serious problems, with vote returns delayed for hours in the March primary.
"Statewide, 98 percent of the county clerks currently administer local elections," Cronin said. "We expect the consolidation of these two offices will save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars annually and will put us on our way toward eliminating seven units of local government right here in DuPage County,"
Cronin has overseen the dissolution of five governmental bodies so far. Other counties need to look inward and do the same. As Rauner said, Illinois is unique in this regard.
"We suffer in Illinois from some of the highest property taxes in America. And it's not a coincidence that we also have more units of local government than any state in America."
Luckily, voters seem to be getting that message. The elimination of the DuPage Election Commission happened only after Cronin switched strategies and asked voters in March in a non-binding referendum if they approved. They did. Overwhelmingly. And then the General Assembly (the change needed a state law) acted after stalling a year before. In Aurora, its election commission also is dissolving into three different counties as voters there approved that consolidation in March as well.
A judge last week split up the commission's assets between those counties so now the change can be effective with the November election.
Politicians, both locally and statewide, have traditionally been loath to make these kinds of changes. Too often, their reluctance has been for political reasons. One only needs to look at the years-stalled idea of consolidating the state treasurer's and comptroller's offices to understand that. But consolidation makes for good government and is a common sense step to ease the burden on taxpayers.