Clank... Shudder... Creak... Scrape... The wheels of government they are a-turning. Oh-so-slow-ly they are a-turning.
Belleville Township lurched another inch toward its long overdue death this week. Belleville city leaders passed an ordinance to help take over the few tasks handled by the township. Then they formed a committee to study the transition with nine members and three support staff.
Twelve people. To study what?
We thought this current effort to eliminate the costly, unneeded government layer represented by Belleville Township started with city and township clerk Dallas Cook’s election in 2013. Nope, Mayor Mark Eckert informed all this week that leaders began talking about dismantling the township a year before, which would be 2012.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill sponsored by state Rep. Jay Hoffman allowing Belleville Township’s demise in 2015. Township trustees finally studied and drafted and legally reviewed and then voted for their end in January.
But trustees didn’t think it would be legal or proper for them to all just resign and shut the doors. They needed to keep things going until the end of their terms in May 2017.
So now 12 people will meet to ponder how to get one Belleville clerk to hand out a little bit of aid to the needy. They will study how best to merge the duties of two full-time township clerks plus a supervisor. They will issue a report. More time will pass. More taxes will be collected.
Here’s a secret that everyone already knows: Belleville Township was a taxpayer fraud. In 2013 it taxed $10 to hand out $1 in aid to the poor — its only function. After much criticism and scrutiny that record has improved to about $8 in taxes to hand out $2 in aid. Even with all that overhead they amassed a $660,000 reserve and are dinking property taxpayers for another $343,400 this year.
All so that three government jobs can exist and so government can force you to fund its little charity. Force is needed, because no one would donate to a charity that only delivered 20 cents in benefit for every $1 you donated.
The resources and the time needed to dismantle this one unit of obsolete machinery is discouraging in our state of 6,968 local government units — the most in the nation and 2,000 more than No. 2, Pennsylvania. How will we ever get out from under all this expensive government if it takes five years, an act of the state legislature, multiple ordinances, multiple lawyers and a committee of 12 to fix the most obvious example of waste and superfluous government imaginable.