People Power! 2017 Transformers Exemplify the Best in Local Government Innovation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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People Power! 2017 Transformers Exemplify the Best in Local Government Innovation

The 2017 Illinois Transformer Awards honored local leaders committed to government efficiency reform. Pictured left to right: Gordon Smith, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Chairman Dan Cronin, Brent Frank, Matt Brolley, and Chairman Jack Franks

llinois residents want—and deserve—transparent, accountable governments that work. But achieving that is not easy. In fact, Illinois has more local units of government—nearly 7,000—than any other state in our nation. And recent MPC analysis shows that Illinois ranks first per capita in spending and the sheer number of Fire, Parks & Recreation and Library Districts.

So it comes as no surprise that a 2016 Gallup News Poll found that only 25% of Illinois residents have confidence in state government.

That’s why on October 19 it was refreshing to take note of those who are truly transforming the way government works for the better. Government and citizen-led initiatives across Illinois are pioneering new ways to deliver better government services at a lower cost.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8th) welcomes attendees and talks about government efficiency reforms at the federal level

The Transform Illinois coalition and its friends came together to honor the 2017 Transformer Award winners, individuals and governments who have taken it upon themselves to make Illinois government more efficient. ComEd both sponsored and hosted the event in their Oak Brook headquarters and more than 150 gathered in a packed room to hear about the strides being made to help local governments deliver services effectively now and in the future.

More than 150 gathered in a packed room to hear about the strides being made to help local governments deliver services effectively now and in the future

State, local and citizen awards were given to Lt. Governor Evelyn  Sanguinetti; IL State Representative Sam Yingling; The Villages of Montgomery & Oswego and the City of Yorkville, and Brent Frank, President of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District for their advocacy and innovation in changing the way government works in Illinois.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin set the tone for the event in his opening remarks and noted the tremendous progress that has been achieved in addressing the “size, scope, and cost” of government. This year, Transform Illinois had several legislative successes including the passage of SB3, which allows county governments throughout Illinois to consolidate units of government. This landmark legislation, along with other legislative successes, give Illinois voters more voice and power in consolidating local units of government.

Congressman Raja Kirshnamoorthi (D-8th District) gave a warm welcome and talked about efficiency at the federal level especially in areas of cost savings and transparency. One of his current focus areas is technical and vocational programs—identifying what skills are in demand and identifying ways in which the private sector can help offset costs. A win for employers, job seekers and taxpayers alike.

Katherine Barret and Richard Greene, columnists at Governing Magazine, deliver the event’s key note address highlighting national stories of local government transformation

Attendees also gained deeper insight from keynote speakers Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene columnists from “Governing Magazine,” who profiled examples of government innovation from across the nation. In addition to sharing broad principles that should guide good government work—from focusing on cost savings to involving stakeholders—they also addressed questions on generating political will.

Gordon Smith, Director of Government Affairs at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) then presented the awards.

When receiving her State Transformer award, Lt. Governor Evelyn remarked, “We have 7,000 units of local government in Illinois, more than any other state, and we pay among the highest property tax rates in the country.  It’s difficult to raise a family and grow a business when you face such high property taxes.  That’s why Governor Rauner and I are fighting to streamline government to make it more efficient and cost effective for taxpayers.” Sanguinetti continued, “It’s a huge honor for me to receive this award from Transform Illinois, but we can’t rest on our laurels.  I won’t stop until we remove obstacles to consolidation and empower local residents with the ability to consolidate as they see fit.”

McHenry County Chairman Jack Franks accepted the award on behalf of Rep. Yingling.  Before the ceremony Rep. Yingling said, “From spearheading legislation that would enable voters to dissolve duplicative layers of government, working to expand our transparency laws, to making our government open and accessible, I have been one of our area’s loudest voices on the subject of government reform.

“That said, it will take all stakeholders working together to move forward.  I am honored to receive this award and look forward to all our continued work ahead. ”

"Finding new ways to work together, consolidate services and do things differently takes time and effort, but it’s what we owe our communities."

Matt Brolley, Montgomery Village President 

Additionally, honorees Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley and Brent Frank, President of the Board of Trustees of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District, were honored for their efforts to collaborate and consolidate local government services in their communities.

“On behalf of the communities of Montgomery, Oswego, and Yorkville, I’m honored to accept a 2017 Transformer Award in recognition of our joint work to improve public services and manage our residents’ and businesses’ tax revenue. Finding new ways to work together, consolidate services and do things differently takes time and effort, but it’s what we owe our communities. Today’s forum is a great way to celebrate that work, and to share our successes and hard lessons with other communities looking to do the same thing,” said Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley.

Brent Frank said, “I’m honored to be part of a movement that encourages innovation and common-sense solutions to the problems that plague many of us charged with providing top-tier government services with limited funding.  Our goal is to provide the residents of Lisle, Woodridge and areas of unincorporated DuPage with excellent fire and EMS service at a reasonable cost. Partnering with our neighboring District Darien-Woodridge through a functional cooperation agreement has brought efficiency and enhanced service to both Districts and provides a win-win scenario for our residents.”

Civic participation and effective government are cornerstones of our region’s viability. That's why MPC’s partnerships with Transform Illinois is so critical to our government efficiency work. For more information visit here.



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