DuPage County leaders found a defunct fire district and a “zombie” sanitary district when it went looking for ways to consolidate local governments. We don’t know whether there are zombies in the metro-east, but we’d sure love to see St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dustan spearhead initiatives to find out.
Our local governments are definitely ripe for consolidation. Belleville, East St. Louis and Granite City townships have boundaries exactly the same as the cities by those names, and no real reason to exist other than to provide politicians and others jobs. St. Clair County has three school districts with fewer students than just one of the schools in Belleville School District 118. Again, the main purpose seems to be ensuring that adults have jobs or political offices to hold.
East St. Louis has its own election board when the county could easily absorb that responsibility for a fraction of the cost. The city is fighting to hold onto its housing authority when a single county authority would do.
Dozens of small fire districts could be combined into larger, more cost-effective and efficient districts. Communities that can barely stay afloat like Washington Park could merge with a nearby town. No doubt there are many more examples.
DuPage County estimates that it will save $100 million over 20 years through its Accountability, Consolidation, and Transparency Initiative. Wonder what we could save in the metro-east?