State Representatives Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor), Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein), and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) have joined with other elected officials from Lake and McHenry Counties to sponsor and pass legislation in the Illinois House to bring greater efficiency to county and local governments.
Illinois has more layers of government than any other state in the United States, creating one of the most burdensome property tax scenarios nationwide. House Bill 229, which passed the House today, allows for duplicative bodies of government to be dissolved. This initiative has already been utilized in DuPage County to great effect.
“County officials and residents in both Lake and McHenry Counties have been frustrated by so many overlapping units of government for a long time,” said Wheeler. “We’ve seen how helpful this efficiency initiative has been in DuPage County and I’m very pleased we will now be able to benefit from it in Lake and McHenry Counties as well.”
HB 229 grants authority to Lake and McHenry Counties to pass ordinances, which may be ratified by referendum, to remove certain units of local government that perform the same duties as other units of local government, or lack appropriate accountability. The purpose of this is to increase efficiency in local government and help lessen the heavy tax burden already on the backs of families in Lake and McHenry Counties. In addition to being supported by a number of local leaders in both counties, it is also supported by the Better Government Association, Illinois Association of County Board Members, the Illinois Association of Realtors, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
“Efficiency in government has been a punch line in Illinois for a long time now,” said Sullivan. “The reality is that efficiency isn’t just a problem in Springfield, but throughout Illinois. While we still need to do much more, this effort has been working in DuPage County and now we have the chance to benefit from it as well. I want to thank Lake County Board Chairman, Aaron Lawlor, for encouraging our support on this measure, and also my colleagues who helped pass it.”
“I would like to echo the comments of my colleagues; residents have been asking for some relief from the heavy tax burden that is causing so many of our families and business to leave Illinois,” said Jesiel. “We have a lot of work to do in state government to help solve this problem, but if we can empower our county government and voters to directly help make government operate more efficiently, I’m happy to support it.”
DuPage County was a pilot for this effort beginning in 2013, where a review of some 400 taxing bodies found that most suffered from some form of unaccountability or duplicative service. That assessment found issues with local units failing to meet county standards for issues such as ethics policies, sharing of essential service information, access of records to the public, and that many local units had duplicate services and contracts leading to increased costs.
“I want to thank the Representatives for supporting this legislation,” said Aaron Lawlor, Lake County Board Chairman. “House Bill 229 gives Lake County the ability to continue our efforts to make county and local government more efficient by finding new opportunities for consolidation of shared services.”
For further information, and to track the progress of House Bill 229 in the Senate, please visit www.ilga.gov<http://www.ilga.gov>.