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Approaches to consolidating local government services

These special districts allow communities to satisfy the state's expenditure and debt limits while still fulfilling the growing demand for services.

This Policy Update explores the history and implications of special districts in Illinois and reviews both the commission report and House Bill 5785. This is a byproduct of the Illinois Constitution of 1870, which placed severe restrictions on the borrowing and spending powers of local governments.

Illinois has between 7,000 and 8,500 units of local government, according to estimates by the U. Illinois experienced substantial population growth during the 20th Century, and communities soon required more public services than governments could fund under these restrictions.

GO TO 2040 recommends that local governments should explore ways to coordinate or consolidate services through collaborative and responsible decision making.

Both horizontal (between non-overlapping units of government) and vertical (between overlapping units of government) service consolidation should be considered.

The bill would require special districts pursuing dissolution to have a majority vote by both the dissolving government and the receiving government.

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It is important to note that there is no standard or optimal form of local governments because each community has its own unique challenges.

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As government agencies, special districts are subject to public accountability mechanisms.Most local governments must perform their own audits and financial reporting.This can be a demanding task for smaller special districts with limited resources, and at the expense of transparency and accountability, a number of local governments have not succeeded in fulfilling these financial requirements.The services they provide include fire protection, water treatment, parks, and mosquito abatement.Consequently, there may be a dozen of different units of government providing services in a given community.In response, state lawmakers authorized the creation of special districts by severing services from overwhelmed counties, municipalities, and townships.