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January 8, 2016

Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates task force report

The Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates, created by Executive Order 15-15, submitted a series of recommendations to the Governor on December 17, 2015.  The task force included 29 members from the public and private sectors and was chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.  The purpose of the task force was to study local government and school district consolidation and efficiency.  This effort follows a separate state-based group, the Local Government Consolidation Commission, which issued a report in 2014. 

The task force made 27 recommendations to the Governor, addressing issues of local government consolidation, shared services, and state statutory mandates.  Of particular interest to CMAP are the recommendations that further the implementation of GO TO 2040, which recommends that local governments explore ways to coordinate or consolidate services through collaborative and responsible decision making.  Policies and statutes should maintain the ability of local governments to find innovative solutions to their problems and to integrate intergovernmental collaboration into their decision-making processes. 

Local government consolidation

CMAP has previously analyzed and supported efforts and legislation related to local government consolidation.  The task force recommendations include:  

  • Provide all counties with the power to dissolve or consolidate local governments whose boards are county-appointed (currently only DuPage County has this authority).
  • Allow townships to consolidate with coterminous municipalities via referendum.
  • Facilitate the consolidation of multiple townships into one by removing the limitation that caps township size at 126 square miles and by allowing the property tax rate to be pegged at the lowest rate among the townships to be consolidated.
  • Allow counties to keep their existing form of government after eliminating townships countywide via referendum, rather than requiring that it change to a commission form of government.
  • Allow small counties to dissolve township assessors into one county assessor.
  • Allow smaller township road and bridge districts to consolidate with the township.
  • Provide the Illinois State Board of Education flexibility to encourage school district consolidation.

Shared services

The task force was also supportive of shared services and recommended that local governments share and coordinate services through intergovernmental agreements.  In addition, it recommended that state agencies encourage local government service sharing when allocating discretionary funds to local governments. Through its Local Technical Assistance program, CMAP is also engaged in efforts that facilitate local governments' efforts to share services.  In August 2015, for example, the Lower Fox River Partnering Initiative Shared Services Study was accepted in a joint resolution by Oswego, Montgomery, and Yorkville, providing a framework for long-term collaboration on shared services and joint planning among the three communities. 

Looking forward

CMAP is currently involved in Transform Illinois, a collaboration of local elected officials, civic organizations, and research institutions dedicated to promoting and supporting local government efficiency efforts in Illinois.  The group is collaborating on research and legislative efforts to encourage consolidation, efficiency, and shared services.  In addition, CMAP is developing strategies for the seven-county region's next long-range comprehensive plan.  As part of this process, CMAP plans to further refine GO TO 2040 recommendations on efficient governance, particularly those involving local government consolidation, shared services, and community capacity.