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Illinois Government Consolidation Could Be Coming to an Agency Near You

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Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a bill that gives local government bodies the power to vote themselves out of existence.

House Bill 5785 gives local boards -- like water, township and mosquito abatement districts as well as municipal governments -- the ability to either consolidate, annex or dissolve following a majority vote of that entity's board. Illinois has nearly 7,000 government taxing bodies, by far the highest number per capita in the nation.

While the new law should be welcome news to those who have long complained that many of the state's small government units provide services that could more efficiently be provided by county or city governments, the law could have a minimal impact in the fight against bureaucratic bloat as government bodies likely will be unwilling to dissolve themselves and opt for unemployment.

Consolidation won't be easy, though, say government watchdogs--various state commissions have offered some ideas and the Metropolitan Planning Council will discuss the issue at a luncheon in Chicago Aug. 28.

Also on the watchdog front, Better Government Association President Andy Shaw believes some serious reform is in order for the Chicago Animal Care and Control Agency. He believes it's inefficiently run, wastes money, has poor hiring practices and, as a result, does not treat well the animals in its care. Shaw outlines a list of grievances and possible solutions: "(T)he sooner the Emanuel administration makes that a priority, the sooner we can leave the howling and barking to the dogs."