Why do we need township government?
The Dispatch/Argus is to be commended for bringing to light some data on township government, in particular the South Moline Township, which recently raised taxes by 109% while giving its employees raises totaling $26,000.
In years past, efforts have been made to abolish this extra layer of government altogether, the argument being that other governmental bodies could easily absorb the duties currently performed by townships at an enormous savings to taxpayers.
An effort was made to put the question on the ballot, but I don't recall if it was successful, and if it was, the measure was defeated, as nothing was done.
It did cause the townships to have to engage in a campaign to try to argue that they were necessary. Most of the country does not even have a township layer of government, but in Illinois, 85 of the 102 counties do.
Townships primarily duties are to determine the value of property for taxation, take care of roads not maintained by other government entities and distribute welfare to the local poor not eligible for other public aid.
The article which appeared several days ago in the D/A is dense with salary figures and other data, but some stand out.
Most township employees work part time, but receive full salaries and benefits.
South Moline Township has a budget of nearly $1 million dollars, but just passed a 109% tax increase, reportedly to cover a $300,000 deficit.
Salaries for employees make up nearly half of the township's budget.
South Moline Township maintains a mere 8.5 miles of road total. For that, the township's "highway commissioner", Tracy Best earns $25,730 plus health and retirement benefits for working 30 hours a week.
To maintain the 8.5 miles of road in 2006, "$146,254 was budgeted and spent by the road and bridge department, including salaries for workers, road maintenance, vehicle and facility insurance, and employee FICA and retirement", or about $17,206 bucks per mile.
Think some other government body could do it cheaper, say, the county? Or how about contracting someone to do it? Think they could bring it in under $17 grand a mile?
To handle the 8.5 miles of road, Mr. Best has a staff of three full time and one part time employees. Two of them are his sons.
Rose Verstraete, township supervisor, employs her daughter and grandson.
Township assessor John Kiddoo was paid $47,000 for his 30-hour-a-week position and employs his wife as office manager at a salary of $31,158. No one in the office works over 30 hours a week.
Townships do provide essential services, but wouldn't it be far less expensive and redundant to find a way to incorporate the services they provide, at least some of them, into other governmental agencies and entities?
What do you think?