Township is needless layer of government

June 22, 2013 

Tell us again, why does Belleville Township exist? Township government is an antiquated, unnecessary layer of government. People might be able to make the case for it in some rural areas, but certainly not in Belleville, where the township and city boundaries are exactly the same. That's also true in East St. Louis and Granite City.

Townships have three responsibilities. In Belleville Township, two of those responsibilities -- maintaining roads and assessing property -- are handled by the city and St. Clair County respectively.

Belleville city and township share not only boundaries but leaders.

City Clerk Dallas Cook is also the township clerk. Township attorney Brian Flynn is also the assistant city attorney. Recently deceased township Trustee Paul Klingler used to be an alderman. Ralph Hult, appointed to fill Klingler's vacant seat, is married to Alderwoman Melinda Hult.

Flynn objected to Hult's appointment and said the new person has to be a member of Klingler's Good Government Party. He's threatened to involve the state's attorney.

If that's the rule, it's ridiculous. That means the new appointee would have to be someone who held office before as a party member, or who signed a nominating petition for a party candidate -- a pretty shallow pool.

Belleville Township needs to get rid of that rule; better yet, get rid of township government.

As Cook says, the city could easily take over the public assistance program that the township operates -- and save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries and overhead costs.

But no surprise, eliminating township government would be even more complicated than selecting a new trustee.

Just getting the question on the ballot would require signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters from each of the county's townships. That's thousands more people than voted in the April city and township elections.

Oh, that's why Belleville Township exists -- not because it's needed, but because of the moat built to protect it.

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