SPRINGFIELD (IRN) — Legislation that would make it easier to eliminate some units of government in just two Illinois counties could be on its way to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk this week.
The Illinois Senate narrowly passed an amended bill Tuesday afternoon. Should it become law, it would give township voters and township officials the ability to eliminate local townships via referendum.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Democratic Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, says lawmakers that have been lamenting about how property taxes are too high are now given a chance to do something about it.
“We have talked this to death, about the willingness to do something in consolidation,” he said. “You have a chance to do it now.”
The bill would also abolish road districts in McHenry County and neighboring Lake County that manages fewer than 15 miles of road.
Some Republicans outside of Lake and McHenry counties opposed the measure. Sen. Dale Righter, of Mattoon, said the measure would see a township abolished and then the rest of the county’s residents stuck with that government’s debt.
“Why is that provision in there and why do you think that’s really fair?” he asked.
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has been pushing to abolish the Algonquin Township Highway Department after allegations of corruption and mismanagement spawned costly legal battles and political infighting.
“Our previous road commissioner was spending money on Walt Disney trips, Gucci handbags, complete wastes of taxpayer money,” said State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods. “This legislation, without a fix to address the debt issue, actually incentivizes certain forms of misbehavior under the most scrupulous forms of it.”
McConchie opposed the bill because of the provision that would put the existing debt of the dissolved entity on the rest of the county.
The bill needs a concurrence vote in the House before it heads to Rauner’s desk.
Illinois has 7,000 units of local government, far more than any other state.