So the worthless, make-work layer of government called Belleville Township is finally going away and the esteemed panel studying the transition recommends a tax increase.
Let’s try to remain calm for the sake of our collective blood pressures. Let’s point out a few things that would provide gentle persuasion against a tax increase.
First, government shouldn’t be in the business of enforced charitable giving. When it does, it should be an organized approach, such as at the county level working with the network of social service groups, rather than a system that benefits the few who figure out what and where to get something in a certain city.
Second, Belleville Township existed with the sole function of providing some government jobs to a few. That created an obscene overhead of $4 for every $1 handed out in aid. The township was contiguous with the city limits, so it performed no public function other than the aid for the needy.
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Third, the township was so tax hungry that it amassed $787,980, as of their 2015 audit. Belleville could invest that money, hand out the same amount that the township did annually and not ask taxpayers for another dime for at least a decade.
Finally, this needs no expansion or additional staff or additional property tax. The township handed out fewer than two gift cards a day to the needy. We’re pretty sure a city employee can handle that burdensome task, or the city could delegate the responsibility to one of the many local social service agencies.
The township once cost the owner of a $100,000 home $33, then trustees were browbeat and embarrassed into cutting their excess to $24. The mercy killing of this useless bit of government is part of Illinois’ imperative to save itself from a nation-leading 7,000 layers of local government. All these layers create gross inefficiencies as we’ve seen in Belleville Township, or gross corruption as we’ve seen with East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver W. Hamilton spending $230,000 on a township credit card, getting a $40.66-an-hour public housing drywall contract and obtaining a $25,000 tax increment financing grant to fix a shack for 24 registered voters.
Belleville city leaders need to resist the recommendation to impose any taxes for township functions.