Are townships needed in Illinois?

MOLINE, Illinois-- It's a program offered by the Moline Township that helps people like Antonio Sargent find jobs.

"The program is keeping me with a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, and a place to go and look for jobs," says Sargent.

But it's the entire idea of a township that some people want to cut.

"I think there's definite redundancy," says Bill Bloom with the Rock Island County Republicans.

In a time where money is tied up in Illinois, people are questioning the need for townships especially in Illinois where there are more local governing bodies than any other state in the nation. People see these extra bodies of government as unnecessary and costly.

"Having so many pieces of government all drawing property taxes, I think the number of units of governments in Illinois is something that has to be brought under control if we ever hope to bring our property taxes down," says Bloom.

More government, Bloom explains, means less money in the pockets of Illinois property tax payers. Right now, Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the country.

"Why do we need a Rock Island Township? Why do we need a Moline Township Hall? Why don't we sell that land back to private ownership, turn it into something that generates real estate taxes and hopefully some revenue for private enterprise?" says Bloom.

And then there's the other side of the story.

"Usually when you abolish something, it ends up costing you more," says Moline Township Supervisor Don Johnston.

"People say, wouldn't it be better if the city or the county did it? Well, it would cost a heck of a lot more," says Johnston.

Johnston says if Rock Island County got rid of all 18 of its townships, it would cost the county almost $6M to make up for road maintenance, property assessments, and some public assistance programs the township provides.

"If people study it and look at it, I think they'll come up in most cases thinking townships are pretty valuable," says Johnston.

Antonio sees the benefits when he's looking for a fresh start in life, but others remain skeptical.

"Townships just look at their needs. Nobody looks at what's the total picture of what's happening to taxpayers in Rock Island county," says Bloom.

It's a balancing act of value of services with the cost of operation.

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