Consolidation has been in the works in the state of Illinois for some time. Currently, the state has over 7,000 units of government, which is more than any other state in the country. Governor J.B. Pritzker highlighted the idea of voters at the local level voting to consolidate or eliminate units of government as a way to reduce property taxes.
Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole says his group is in favor of the idea, but not on a radical level. Cole said that the main hurdle to clear locally will be protectionism from people fearing the loss of identity
State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says that in some instances consolidation may not save any money at all so the state should be smart about any plan put in place. Davidsmeyer says the General Assembly should first stop with unfunded mandates and then look extensively at what makes sense for consolidation: “I don’t like the top-down approach. I think the best way to do is to incentivize it, and provide additional opportunities and benefits from the State of Illinois. When you’re looking at school districts and consolidation, most of the time a school is in a centralized location. Maybe the State of Illinois has some type of funding for building a new, centrally-located school. Bringing peer groups together to form one to have the same taxes and saving tax payer dollars is a difficult task.”
The Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force has yet to release a report on any other ways to relieve the state’s property tax burden. Many see the upcoming census as a way to force consolidation and realignment for the state’s many school districts, road districts, levy districts, and other local units of government.