A Commentary on “Too Many Local Governments”

After municipal budget expert Stephen Willson read the article about the Better Government Association’s call for fewer local governments, he wrote this comment. I believe it deserves to be more widely shared.

“Small, special purpose governments are almost always run by partisans. (Who runs for the park board if they hate parks?)

“So they grow and grow and no single government is responsible for rationalizing all the needs.

“This also makes it virtually impossible for a good citizen to keep track of every unit of government and to affect their elected representatives.

“In a perfect world, each town would have one government that would include parks, schools, et. al., and one combined tax rate and they would have to make decisions: more police, more parks, or more teachers.

“And voters would only have to watch how their one, single alderman voted.

“But we don’t live in a perfect world.

“In urban areas, that might be possible, but rural areas, it wouldn’t work.

“Rural areas can’t be grafted onto cities.

“Still, Illinois is about as inefficient as it is possible to be, and there are indeed many units of government that could be eliminated without any citizens noticing a diminution in service.”


A Commentary on “Too Many Local Governments” — 6 Comments

  1. I was part of that discussion.

    I think there is something to be said for this.

    It doesn’t have to be smaller, just more streamlined, fewer bodies.

    There are those who say that fewer bodies makes government less accountable, but fewer governing bodies is a start toward less government.

    This cannot be done exponentially in order to avoid a monolith.

    Just some ramblings.

  2. I was in Township government for 24 years; and in the 70’s through the 80’s the office I held provided needed services to a large unincorporated area.

    Today, services in Townships within Cook County are often created to justify the existence of an office and it’s workers.

    Although a supporter of Township government, I have grown to believe through experience and observation that in urban counties over 2 million in population existing Townships should be abolished.

  3. Agree entirely with BeenThereDoneThat, that Townships should be abolished in any urban counties with populations over 2,000,000.

    One only has to look at Lyons Township in Cook County and the role it played in the rise of Steve Landek, to see that the most “important” role Townships serve in these areas is political, not providing unique service to citizens.

  4. The point of townships is so that the voters have the ability to vote on decisions in their communities without bureaucracy.

    The problem is that Voters have been so disenchanted and not interested in any local government that no one shows up to these township meetings.

    Instead of removing townships we should be giving people the ability to understand how it works and what is at stake.

    Empowering people in caring about what happens in their neighborhood.

  5. Leave the “caring” to the Churches and places of worship. That’s their job.

    This “caring” argument is a ruse; Townships now are for employment, nepotism, insurance coverage, and pension plans.

    Do Townships do some good? Yes….but at far too high a cost.

    The private sector in the USA, the most productive entity in the history of the world, is bleeding to death because of GOVERNMENT. Think about that as you “care”.

    Townships need to go.

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