This is the third installment about township government that was written by McHenry County Board member-elect Mike Walkup:
SHOULD WE GET RID OF TOWNSHIPS AND HOW?
What then is the actual cost of having townships versus not having them?
We couldn’t say back when Bob Anderson was making his pitches to abolish townships but there has since been a study.
In 2004, Cook County townships were studied in terms of efficiency and cost and it was concluded that if those townships were abolished and their essential functions were taken over by other units of local government, the net savings would be FIFTY PER CENT.
Granted these were more urbanized townships than most of those in McHenry County, but Algonquin Township is almost identical to those Cook County suburban townships.
Why then do we still have townships?
We have townships because they are there.
Once something is there, people are there who have a vested interest in staying there.
If we were to turn local government over to Bain Capital, the first thing they would do is dissolve township government.
Ironically, it is the Republican Party which is most invested in the continuation of township government, as more counties, and hence more townships, throughout the state are in Republican areas.
Townships are a good place for local politicians to get their start.
We have several current and former County Board members who started out on township boards.
Dick Klemm, who eventually became State Senator, started at the township.
His ex wife, who shares his surname, was previously County Board Chair and is now a township Supervisor.
They are also a great place to retire.
he way the government retirement system works is you multiply the total number of years you were in government employment times the salary you received during your last years to come up with your pension amount.
The fact that you didn’t make much during most of those earlier years does not reduce your pension.
It is not based on what you paid in, in contrast to most private pension plans.
For example, we currently have three township Supervisors in McHenry County who served for many years on the County Board, and another who is expected to be running for Supervisor.
While on the Board, they didn’t earn much as some of them worked on a per diem basis in past years.
When they retire today, however, they will become entitled to generous pensions based on their Supervisor salaries.
It is a great way to boost your pension.
What has been the track record of attempts to abolish township government?
Bob Anderson was the only one in the state as far as I know to be able to surmount the legal hurdles to even get the question on the ballot.
When he did so, the county was swarmed by township people from all over the state and money poured in from the state township lobbying organization.
Literally thousands of signs appeared saying: “Township Government/The Government Closest To The People.”
That will happen again if anyone is so bold as to try to abolish an individual township anywhere in the state. If one township falls, the county will have to scramble to figure out how to replace its functions, which will show that it can be done without the world ending. This will be the death knell of townships everywhere.
There will likely only be one of these contests going on at any one time so the entire weight of the extremely powerful Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) will be able to descend on the plucky locals.
Whoever wants to do this will need a lot of money and a lot of volunteers.
They are also going to need a good slogan that can fit on a sign or bumper sticker.
Jack Franks may have given it to them in his recent attempt to create a County Executive.
“NO TOWNSHIPS=LESS TAXES”
It could be a winner.
Next installment, Politics