Illinois’ property tax task force will share its
recommendations to reduce Illinois’ sky-high property taxes in less than a
month. Cutting Illinois’ nation-leading number of government units should be in
Consider: If Illinois did away with townships, a homeowner paying $6,000 in
property taxes could save as much as $210 on his or her property tax bill.
Illinois is home to nearly 7,000 units of local government, more than any other
state in the nation and twice as much government per person as the nation’s
average. Townships are one example of government units that have largely
outlived their purpose. Illinois has more than 1,400 townships, which cost
taxpayers outside of Cook County $574 million – or 3.5% of all downstate
property tax collections – per year to deliver simple public services that
cities or counties could just as easily deliver.
Illinoisans pay for each of layer of local government – cities, school
districts, park districts, mosquito abatement districts and others – through
their property taxes. With such a large number of government bodies to fund,
it’s no wonder the average Illinois homeowner pays the highest effective
property tax rate among large states and second-highest property taxes in the
nation.to top of second column]
Many local government units in Illinois wastefully
perform overlapping functions, and others provide services that
could be more efficiently delivered by a larger government unit.
Texas, a state with more than twice as many residents and five times
the amount of land as Illinois, has almost 2,000 fewer layers of
local bureaucracy than the Prairie State.
Long-term property tax relief can only come through
constitutional public pension reform that ties future, unearned
increases to the actual rate of inflation. Until that happens, state
leaders could give taxpayers the tools to control how much local
government they’re willing to pay for.
Consolidation is already happening and is cutting back on waste. For
example, the city of Evanston and the now defunct Evanston Township
shared the exact same borders. In 2014, voters agreed to dissolve
the township, and the city assumed the township’s responsibilities
that year. Evanston saved nearly $800,000 in the first year
following the dissolution, in addition to seeing improvement in
In the spirit of other recent consolidation reforms, state lawmakers
should make it easier for local taxpayers to trim layers of local
government at the ballot box.
Click here to respond to the editor about this article