Getting more with less

Endings can be difficult, but this week Belleville Clerk Dallas Cook reminded Belleville Township leaders of why they should be glad, and not sad, that they will dissolve the township and hand over its duties to the city: Their legacy will be eliminating a governmental unit for the good of the people.

Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government, more than any other state. As state Rep. Jay Hoffman, the bill’s sponsor, put it: “By allowing the city to perform the tasks currently performed by the township we can stop paying for duplicative expenses.”

Also with the good of the people in mind, we encourage city leaders to handle the township’s job of assisting the poor. There has been some talk of the city contracting with St. Clair County, but the smaller, more customer-friendly confines of City Hall are a better fit for aid recipients.

And the city’s primary focus needs to be the work and how to save the maximum number of tax dollars. Some township trustees seem more concerned about the township’s two employees than the taxpayers who pay the bills. Cook said he believes his existing staff could absorb the township’s work, so it would make no sense to create even one new position. If the city has openings and wants to give the township workers hiring priority, that’s fine. But the city should not create unneeded positions to make a place for them.

Cook said the process of shutting down the township will be challenging. We hope it also challenges state lawmakers.This law was narrowly written to apply only to Belleville Township. But now it needs to become the template for more efficient and effective government.