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August 9, 2013

New Law Allows DuPage to Explore Dissolutions of Local Government Bodies

On August 2, 2013, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 494 Counties-Reduction-Efficiency legislation into law. The legislation establishes a pilot program, the first of its kind in the state, whereby DuPage County can dissolve select small units of local government and consolidate their services in a transparent, open process. CMAP actively supported this legislation because of its alignment with GO TO 2040's efficient governance recommendations to pursue coordinated investments.

A process for consolidating units of local government
The legislation establishes a process for DuPage County to dissolve some special purpose and local units of government that exist entirely within the county. The law will not apply to fire protection districts with more than three employees. To initiate a dissolution, DuPage County must first pass an ordinance proposing the action. Next, the County must perform an audit of the unit of local government. Following the audit, the DuPage County Board must pass another ordinance to initiate the dissolution within 120 to 150 days. Concurrently, the County must notify voters residing in the area served by the local government in question of their option to reverse the decision with a backdoor referendum in the next election.

If the County passes both ordinances and decides to proceed, a "trustee-in-dissolution" would be appointed to replace the local government's board. The trustee would be authorized to levy and rebate taxes as necessary to close out the finances of the unit of government. The trustee could also enter into intergovernmental agreements to carry out the duties of the local government. The trustee would create a plan for the dissolution of the government for the County Board's consideration, which would enumerate what functions would be undertaken by the County. The law also requires the County to demonstrate cost savings and ensures that all funds from a dissolved government unit be put towards performing duties on behalf of the residents served by the dissolved entity. For fire protection districts only, the trustee would not be able to increase or decrease service levels or decrease property tax levies.

Efficient governance
GO TO 2040 recommends analyzing the effects of consolidating local government and sharing services. The law gives DuPage County an accountable and transparent means to implement local government consolidation, share services, and increase intergovernmental collaboration. Moreover, the initiative provides an opportunity for the rest of the region to monitor, learn from, and develop strategies to prudently coordinate and consolidate local services.