New Law Seeks Accounting for Townships

By Karen Haave
A new state law requiring townships to create a committee to evaluate their own levels of efficiency is getting mixed reviews from local officials.
Signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in mid-June, the Decennial Committee on Local Government Efficiency Act requires Illinois townships, road districts and township multi-assessment districts to create committees to study and report on local government efficiency.
Although it applies to all township-related government units, it also applies to all other units of local government that levy taxes, such as forest preserve districts, but excludes municipalities and counties.
Under the new law, townships must form a committee to study local efficiencies and meet for the first time no later than June 10, 2023; have the committee meet at least additional three times; prepare a written report with any recommendations on increased accountability; and file the report with their respective county boards.
Some officials also are wondering if the law is a precursor to an effort to eliminate township government.
“My opinion is that once again the state has put forward legislation that is an unfunded mandate,” said Will County Board Chair Judy Ogalla, R-Monee.
“I believe the state is doing this as a means to provide documentation to eliminate various levels of government in Illinois. I agree that it does require a lot of additional time gathering information and compiling it in the requested format.”
Asked how the state can add a law that targets township and other similar government units, she said, “I believe the state legislature can pass any legislation they want if they have the support.
“I think that everyone south of I-80 and not within the intense population area of Chicago probably rely heavily on township government.”
Green Garden Township Supervisor Don Murday agreed the law does add some work to their load, but was less peeved than his Republican Will County colleague.
“I think it is always good to take a step back and reflect on what the township is currently doing, and making sure we are doing it effectively and efficiently,” he said.
“So, while I am never one looking to add additional projects to my plate in this role, I do welcome the chance to review what we are doing so that I can report to the residents of Green Garden Township that their elected officials are complying with all relevant and pertinent rules and regulations.
“As for (appointments to) the Decennial Committee, its membership is the township trustees, and at least two residents. We are required to meet at least three times in an 18-month period.”
Murday said he asked residents Jerry Wayman and Bob Schulz to join the committee. “Both residents will bring energy and passion for this project. We can add more members to this committee if we see the need.
“I view this exercise as one where we look at all the township does, and make sure that we are following all relevant laws and guidelines. In that vein, we should look at all local ordinances and resolutions, all policies and procedures, and our adherence to required rules.
“This will be a good review for Green Garden Township, and frankly, all the townships. I believe it is always good to self-reflect to take account of what we are doing, and whether we could be doing it better.
“We endeavor to run this township as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

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