Government leaders explore collaboration at Transform Illinois conference - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Government leaders explore collaboration at Transform Illinois conference

j_stephen_conn via flickr

Statewide group launches initiative promoting increased local government efficiency

(Chicago) … State, county and municipal leaders discussed the growing need for collaboration and innovation as the keys to providing services during challenging financial times in Illinois. The sometimes candid discussions were part of a forum entitled “The Efficiency Advantage” hosted by Transform Illinois, a coalition led by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Metropolitan Planning Council President MarySue Barrett.  The group includes the Better Government Association, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, and Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies.

The forum featured remarks by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who discussed her STAR Performance Management System which tracks Cook County’s 50 departments’ progress toward goals. Panelists included Ill. Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Plainfield), Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor, Todd Maisch of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Christina Burns with the Village of Oswego, who discussed successes and roadblocks they’ve encountered during their consolidation and collaboration efforts.  

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said he was inspired to bring the group together when he saw the difference his Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency (ACT) Initiative made in DuPage County. He told attendees, “This is not a partisan issue.  It’s a good government issue.  We’re here on behalf of our taxpayers and they are at the crux of our efforts. Our goal is to deliver critical services in the most cost-efficient, effective way possible. It’s hard work, it’s not glamorous work and I don’t have all the answers. But I do see opportunities to spread this initiative further.” 

“While the sheer numbers of governmental units in Illinois is staggering, the fundamental question is not only, ‘How many is too many?’ Instead, it’s ‘How should we transform outdated, redundant, ineffective units of government to deliver high-quality services in the most cost-effective and accountable way?’ That’s the question driving the work of Transform Illinois,” said Barrett.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti provided an update on the State’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force and helped present the first annual “Transformer” Awards.

The State “Transformer” Awards went to Ill. Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) and Ill. Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), for their work in the legislature to cut the size, scope and cost of local government. “With the most units of local government of any state, the worst-funded pension systems in the country and enough former politicians in jail to fill their own cell block, Illinois is in desperate need of transformation," said Rep. Franks. "I am truly honored that the Transform Illinois coalition has named me a State Government Transformer.  When all of the energy spent fighting needless partisan battles is devoted instead to serving the best interests of Illinois taxpayers, only then can our state truly be considered transformed. Until then, our work is far from over."

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized as one of the first recipients of the State Government Transformer Award," said Rep. Sandack. "Legislation that increases the efficiency and decreases the cost of the delivery of government services has been a long-standing priority for me and I take pride in working in a bipartisan manner to put public policy in place that helps taxpayers in this important way. Illinois is at a crossroads. We must do everything possible to reduce the size, scope expanse and expense of government. In sum, Illinois must transform.”

A Local Government Transformer Award went to Todd Hileman of the Village of Glenview for the Municipal Partnering Initiative, a consortium of more than 30 local governments in north Cook and Lake Counties that jointly bid infrastructure and capital works projects, thereby obtaining economies of scale and other efficiencies.

A Citizen Transformer Award was given to Karen Hasara, member and former chair of the Sangamon County Citizens Efficiency Commission, which developed and is working to advance 23 specific recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of four broad areas of governmental function in Sangamon County, Ill.: administration, management and budget; community development; public safety; and public works. 

To learn more about Transform Illinois, visit www.transformillinois.org

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