Editorial: Consolidation proposal is the ultimate in government foot-dragging

  • Voters in Nunda Township and McHenry Township will decide binding referendum questions March 17 on whether those government units should be abolished. Nunda Township officials say their part will take 17 years.

    Voters in Nunda Township and McHenry Township will decide binding referendum questions March 17 on whether those government units should be abolished. Nunda Township officials say their part will take 17 years. Daily Herald File Photo

 
Updated 2/3/2020 2:15 PM

We're all for thoughtful planning before making big changes in government, but Nunda Township officials may set a record for prudency.

Nunda Township officials are taking the loooonnng view of a binding referendum question on the March 17 ballot that will ask voters there and in McHenry Township, if those McHenry County government units should be abolished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If approved, McHenry Township officials have said the road district, assessor's office and other functions will be dissolved June 21, 2020, and its assets and obligations transferred to the county. But Nunda Township would take a bit longer to make the same change -- 17 years. Circle May 18, 2037, on your calendar for the big day.

Township officials say that would give them and county officials four full 4-year elected terms to develop an adequate transition plan.

"So, what's the right time frame?" Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings told our Lauren Rohr. "Seventeen years may not be it, but it certainly gets us out into a time frame where if it's going to happen, it can happen in a proper manner." We're confident officials can dot the I's, cross the T's and work out the important details in far less time. A newborn baby would grow into a teenager and be ready to graduate from high school in the time it will take for Nunda to turn out the lights.

Such a delay flies in the face of government by the people and for the people. If a majority of voters agree efficiency and savings dictate these townships should be eliminated and their duties and responsibilities consolidated with another government, officials have an obligation to make that happen in a timely manner.

The questions stem from a bill signed into law in August using McHenry County as a test case for consolidation. The aim is to give voters the power to more easily dissolve townships as an option to provide property tax relief and reduce the size and cost of government.

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Remember, Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of government -- far more than any other state -- and that gets some of the blame in complaints about rising property taxes and government inefficiencies.

Nunda's decision has gotten mixed reviews from residents -- criticized by those who favor eliminating the township as soon as possible, while others, particularly those in unincorporated areas, would prefer to maintain the township's services.

McHenry County would take over the statutory responsibilities of any township that dissolves, such as property assessments and road maintenance. However, most townships offer other programs and services that may not be picked up by the county.

That's a factor voters will have to consider. But if they favor dissolution, waiting nearly two decades to make the change would be the ultimate in government foot-dragging.

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