Counties given a green light to pursue efficiencies - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Counties given a green light to pursue efficiencies

Flickr user Joseph O. Holmes (CC)

With Governor Rauner’s recent signing of Senate Bill 3 as Public Act 100-0107, the DuPage County consolidation model, initially approved in 2013, has now been expanded statewide. County leaders have been given new tools to consider dissolution of certain county-appointed entities when it is found to be in the best interest of the residents they serve. 

Dissolving redundant units of government promises to improve services and save Illinoisans money. It's a win-win! But before lawmakers can implement strategic efficiencies, they must first understand which county-appointed bodies of government SB3 applies to. 

In other words, where are Illinois' opportunities for improved government efficiency? 

The Transform Illinois coalition has been busy trying to answer that very question. In fact, Transform Illinois recently conducted an analysis of the county-appointed public entity reports submitted to the Illinois General Assembly pursuant to Public Act 99-0634. This law required all 102 Illinois counties to compile and submit a written report regarding their appointed public entities by January 1, 2017. While gathering information about county-appointed entities was the fundamental objective, the Act served a secondary purpose, in so far as it shined a spotlight on these low-profile, under-the-radar layers of local government which usually don’t receive much attention. 

As of August 2017, 70 of the state’s 102 counties submitted a report in compliance with the Act. While there are some remaining gaps in the data, Transform Illinois has nonetheless identified several key takeaways:

  • County-appointed public entities account for nearly 2,000 layers of local government
  • Statewide, 780 of 1,953 county-appointed entities, or 39.9%, were identified as having the authority to levy a property tax on residents 
  • Northeastern Illinois (Cook and the collar counties) reported the highest average number of county-appointed public entities (40.3 per county) when compared to the other regions across the state

By compiling these reports, counties have already initiated an assessment of their appointed bodies on the local level.  With new legislative authority in Public Act 100-0107, County leaders should build on this first step with more in-depth analysis aimed at reducing duplication and creating more efficient and effective service delivery models. 

Chad J. Shaffer is the Chief Policy and Strategy Manager of the DuPage County Board

Victoria Moreno is the Allard Fellow at the Metropolitan Planning Council

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