In reply to Steve Willson’s comments on State Rep. David McSweeney’s bill to allow voters to abolish their township government through a petition and referendum process, commenter “KnownExtremist” offers the following:
I do have an opinion on townships and I think they are completely unnecessary.
Many states do not have them and do perfectly fine. 17 mostly rural counties in Illinois also don’t have them but do have Road Districts.
They also do just fine.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
(1) Assuming that townships might be needed for some reason (other than being “close to the people” which is spurious), once a township has had almost all of it’s formerly unincorporated area gobbled up by municipalities, it ought to cease to exist automatically. Say when 90% of it’s land or road mileage is inside of municipal boundaries.
(2) There also ought to be provisions for periodic referenda on keeping any township when say, 50% of it has disappeared due to annexations. Every ten years, for example, there could be an automatic referendum placed on the ballot after the 50% figure is reached. This would continue until the 90% figure is reached, at which point the township would automatically dissolve.
(3) All townships elections should be non partisan. By allowing partisan elections, whatever party is predominant in the area can just caucus in candidates who will usually win the general election. If a primary is held, the turn out is pathetic owing to the time of year it is held (4th Tuesday in February every four years in off years). Those elected then usually wind up winning the general election, and are often unopposed.
(4) Interim public assistance ought to either be abolished, or done as part of the application process with the state for public aid benefits, which is almost always done by the applicants prior to seeking further assistance from whatever township they happen to have landed in. As it now stands, all of the paperwork, interviewing, and verification that is already being done by IDPA is just repeated by the township, which consumes time and resources.
(5) Both the Assessor and Road Commissioner should be placed under direct control of the township board. Currently, the Township Supervisor does act as “treasurer” for the Road District, but that just means that they cut the payroll checks. The Supervisor has nothing to do, however, with the Assessor’s office.
(6) Salaries of township officials should be predicated on the actual amount of work that they do, not the population of the township. Population does not correlate with the duties of either the Supervisor or Road Commissioner. Public aid applicants do not tend to go up that much with population growth as most new people are those moving into newly built homes who are not seeking public assistance. The township road mileage also goes down, not up, when municipalities annex land and incorporate the township roads into city streets. As it now stands, township officials routinely increase their salaries to match population growth. Only the Assessor’s office increases proportionately to population growth.
I look forward to hearing from “the nob” on this one.