Editorials

Another township may die, but tax savings could be much greater

Belleville Township was eliminated after years of legislative wrangling. Its few functions are now performed by city clerks.
Belleville Township was eliminated after years of legislative wrangling. Its few functions are now performed by city clerks. News-Democrat

The logic of less seems to be catching on in Madison County, but it is happening where taxpayers have the least to gain.

Three townships share exact borders with municipalities in Madison County: Godfrey Township, Alton Township and Granite City Township. Of the three, only Godfrey Township is being considered for consolidation.

Guess which of the three milks taxpayers for a fraction of what the others do?

Godfrey Township received $188,500 in property taxes last year. Alton Township received $630,353. But the biggest empire belongs to Robert Shipley, supervisor of Granite City Township.

Shipley is the former Metro East Sanitary District chief, and the guy accused of padding the payroll with softball buddies to the point that there were no funds to fix pumps and save Pontoon Beach from spring floods. He and his predecessors have turned Granite City Township into a $1.11 million property taxpayer burden.

All the townships receive shares of other taxes, too.

None of these townships should exist. Their only statutory mandate is to hand out some aid to the poor, a job that municipal clerks could take on at a fraction of the cost. In Madison County they also assess property, a government function that could cheaply be absorbed by the county.

Belleville Township was absorbed by the city, no one is crying and taxpayers are about $140,000 better off for it. East St. Louis Township is a hotbed of corruption with no real value to residents that should be absorbed by the city.

Illinois’ tax burden is near the highest in the nation, in large part because we support nearly 7,000 layers of government. Townships within cities are the obvious place to start saving ourselves.

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