Biss’ bill to consolidate local government passes in state Senate

Paige Leskin, Assistant City Editor

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would allow the consolidation of certain local government entities was passed by the Illinois Senate on Monday and heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The House bill names 13 different government units that would be able to be annexed by a city or county, or merge with districts next to theirs. The employees of the bodies involved in any consolidation would be able to keep their jobs and any contractual rights they have.

The bill would allow for the possibility of government efficiency and saving of tax dollars. Biss said Illinois law allows for the creation of various local government taxing bodies but provides no way for cities to combine them. The bill adds amendments to the codes and acts that provide for these entities, including public health, forest preservation and water commissions.

“No state has more taxing bodies than Illinois,” Biss said in a news release. “If government units themselves believe their independent existence is unnecessary and that the taxpayers would be better served by a more efficient arrangement, the state legislature certainly shouldn’t stand in the way.”

In order for proposed changes to take effect, the majority of governing authorities involved must vote in favor at a public meeting.

Evanston city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he believed the bill would not impact Evanston greatly, as the city does not possess any of the government bodies mentioned in the text of the bill. He said the most recent consolidation Evanston has been through was the dissolution of the township, which officially transitioned its services to the city on May 1.

The bill will return to the state House for another vote because an additional amendment was added.

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