ILLINOIS LEADS THE nation in units of government with 6,994. Of those, 1,433 are townships. That's roughly the number that separates us from the state in the No. 2 spot, Pennsylvania.
It costs us, and all you have to do is take a tour through our public payroll database at bnd.com to see how much: $12.8 million last year in the metro-east just for township salaries. Those included $84,359 for Centreville Township Supervisor Curtis McCall, $80,944 for Caseyville Township sewers manager Joseph Hogg and $80,714 for Centreville Township Highway Commissioner Marty Crawford.
We're pleased that two townships have cut salaries -- whether out of public embarrassment or financial necessity we're unsure -- but you still have to ask what you're getting for your money. Can you say what the townships exactly do? Besides maintaining some rural roads, many have next to no responsibility.
For example, Belleville Township mirrors the borders of the city of Belleville. No roads, no sewers, but we paid $125,670 in salaries last year. What are they doing in that lonely little building at 111 W. A St. other than handing out a few welfare checks?
St. Clair Township Supervisor Timothy Buchanan recently wrote about all the many tasks he supervises for his $63,000. He offered the list in support of his contention that his was much more than a part-time job.
Then we saw the Stookey Township controversy over cutting salaries while giving Highway Commissioner Chad Davis a 12.7 percent raise if he's re-elected. He makes $53,258 and the salary will go up to $60,000, ostensibly to make up for cutting his health care benefits.
Remember, this is a whopping raise for the same guy who had to drive his township vehicle with an alcohol ignition lock after he was busted for DUI, got snotty with the deputy and then threatened to leave them in the ditch if they ever went off the road. Is arrogance one of the qualifications for office?
The bottom line for us is townships are not worth it. We could easily cut them all tomorrow, let their few responsibilities roll up to the next higher level of government and the only sad faces would be the 755 township workers and leaders currently collecting salaries.