Thursday, November 14, 2013

Illinois Policy Institute Report

This is the kind of news that most affects the residents of Illinois. Why isn't this hammered on by the liberal local medias??  Merle.

It’s official: Illinois has more local governments than any other state in the country.

With 6,963 local governments, Illinois has 1,800 more than any other state.

Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that Illinois residents pay the second-highest owner-occupied property tax rates in the country, or that it’s the third most corrupt state in the country.

Illinois is a large state, but its size and population alone don’t account for its high number of local government entities. Florida, which has a 50% larger population, has less than one-fourth the units of local government Illinois does, with just 1,650 units.

Local government in Illinois is more redundant than it is in any other state — 61% of the state’s residents live under three layers of general purpose local government (municipal, township or county governments). In 40 other states, residents never have more than two layers of local government.

This leads to a duplication of services and higher taxes.

Illinois also has a large number of education districts – 911 – which includes more than 200 single-school districts. In the Chicago area, single-school districts cost taxpayers $2,000 more per student than multi-school districts. Much of these costs are due to higher administrative costs, including hiring a superintendent for a single school.

It’s not uncommon for an Illinois resident to have other special purpose local governments including parks, forest preserve, library, fire protection, sanitary and even mosquito abatement districts.

Just how much local government is too much?

In the report “Too much government: Illinois’ thousands of local governments,” we revealed that some residents in the Kane County portion of Elgin have no less than 16 local government agencies operating in their area.

The sheer number of local governments in Illinois makes it difficult for state and federal authorities to provide meaningful oversight of local governments. A study by the University of Illinois-Chicago that examined local government corruption in Illinois reported, “Since there are more than 1,200 separate units of government in the Chicago metropolitan region, there are too many jurisdictions and officials for the U.S. Attorney adequately to police.”

It's no coincidence the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois also had 1,531 public corruption convictions between 1976 and 2010 — the most in the country.

More than any other state, Illinois is in dire need of local government consolidation. Unfortunately, due to Illinois law, the consolidation process almost always has to start with elected officials. Very rare is the elected official who wants to eliminate his or her own position.

It’s easier to amend the Illinois Constitution than it is to consolidate or eliminate townships via referendum — the current process requires that any consolidation petition must be signed by 10% of the registered voters in each township of a county within 90 days.

The heavy burden required for citizens to consolidate or eliminate townships disenfranchises voters’ right to have the local government form of their choosing. The story is very similar for other levels of local government.

With Illinois’ crushing tax burden and high levels of corruption, taxpayers should not be on the hook for unnecessary layers of government that duplicate services and cause taxes to soar.

Consolidating local government makes financial and practical sense. It will save Illinois taxpayers money and help combat our public corruption problem.

Brian Costin
Director of Government Reform
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