Demmer backs government consolidation bill, urges more work
Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) hailed House passage of a municipal government consolidation bill on Wednesday, although he believes it lacks one critical element: citizen initiative.
“I rise in support of SB3 today,” Demmer said. “I think it is an important step forward in the consolidation efforts that we have been working on, sometimes in very specific ways and other times in more broad initiatives like we extended in DuPage, McHenry and Lake County. I think this is a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”
Introduced to the House by Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), Senate Bill 3 -- part of the Senate's grand bargain budget package -- puts in place a procedure for township consolidation and the dissolution of coterminous townships, as well as expanding the DuPage County consolidation model to every state county.
“Illinois now has more units of government than any state in the country,” Yingling said. “Having so many layers in government creates inefficiencies and waste with our property tax dollars. We are facing a property tax crisis in the state, and property taxes are driving people out of their home and out of Illinois. Government consolidation is necessary to move our state forward, and SB3 moves us in the right direction.”
Demmer said his worry was that there is a lack of impetus, and municipalities might not see an incentive to initiate consolidation; those in charge might not want to vote themselves out of a job.
“An important balance, an important step, that we can take to strengthen this bill in future legislation is to add in components of citizen empowerment – initiatives … that would allow citizens to collect signatures and petitions and to put a question on the ballot to make the decisions themselves,“ Demmer said. “We should empower citizens to do this and not make them go through only the avenues that are available to them though local units of government.”
Demmer said he hopes to continue to work on the bill with the House to empower citizens on consolidation efforts.
“Over the years, we’ve had very good bipartisan collaboration on consolidation initiatives with the idea of trying to reduce the overall cost of government,” Demmer said. “I think this is a step in the right direction.”
SB3 passed 75-34
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