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No need to keep this township

The state House passed a bill 106-7 this week that would allow Belleville Township to dissolve itself. If only all the township officials were equally enthusiastic about the plan.

Of the five elected township officials, just two – Joy Schreiber and Joe Swierczek – said they would vote for dissolution. Trustees Joyce Laux and Joe Hubbard said they would consider the idea. Supervisor Dennis Korte Sr. refused to comment.

What’s to consider? Are they public servants or concerned about their personal benefits?

It’s practically criminal what it costs taxpayers to run the township. As Swierczek points out: “Simply put, the township spends more taxpayer dollars on salaries and on the building that houses the township than it spends on general assistance,” Schreiber posted on our website that the township distributes about $120,000 a year in general assistance, the township’s sole reason for being, and levied $488,000 for property taxes. Yikes.

Schreiber said she wishes township residents could vote on the dissolution. But there is no point when it’s crystal clear what needs to be done. The city, which has the same boundaries as the township, could administer the general assistance program at a fraction of the operating cost.

If there’s a complaint, it’s that the legislation doesn’t allow the township to go away quickly enough. The soonest it could happen is 2017, when the current officials’ terms end. It makes zero sense to keep this tax guzzler going for two more years. Taxpayers would come out ahead if they paid the elected officials their salaries to do nothing and transferred the work to the city immediately.

Also, it’s unfortunate that the law is written so narrowly that taxpayers in other townships that share boundaries with a city don’t qualify for this option. The excuse was that a broader bill wouldn’t have made it through the legislature. But given the strong support for this bill, the sponsors may have misjudged their fellow lawmakers’ interest in cutting wasteful government.

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