Government Consolidation, Not In My Backyard

Isn’t it amazing how we oftentimes are willing to ‘support’ an idea, until we realize how it can negatively impact us. You probably have seen the video clip asking Wal-Mart shoppers leaving a store, if they are in favor of higher living wages for Wal-Mart employees and the answers are ‘yes’, but then when asked to contribute 15% of the value of the merchandise they just purchased, to the employees, they come up with reasons they don’t want to or can’t do it.

It’s OK for others to do it, but not for me to do it. It’s the “not in my backyard” mentality. We’re all in favor of ‘it’, until ‘it’ affects us.

Naperville city officials have been active in supporting the idea of government consolidation. They exercised this idea when they made the relentless effort to consolidate the Naperville Township Road department into the City of Naperville, with the focus being on saving money for residents. The City received a lot of push-back from the Township Road supervisor, who probably liked the idea to consolidate until he found out he was the one being consolidated out the door.

Naperville city officials have done such a wonderful job of extolling the merits of government consolidation, that someone wants residents to consider and vote on the idea of annexing (consolidating) Lisle, Warrenville, and Woodridge into Naperville. Petitions have been submitted to put the idea up for vote in the April election.

All of a sudden, Naperville city officials, along with the mayors and city officials of Lisle, Warrenville, and Woodridge, are trying to rip away the voters/residents opportunity to make the decision at the voting booth.

This is a classic example of government officials double-standard. When their jobs or fiefdoms are in danger of disappearing, they come up with every reason why annexation/consolidation is not a good idea. What could be more exciting than eliminating numerous bureaucratic jobs of duplicity. What’s wrong with three of the four mayors standing in the unemployment line, or whittling down the number of  council members from 28 to 8.

Orlando, Florida’s population (256,000) is about 20%% more than the combined population of Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, and Woodridge, (215,000) yet Orlando’s city council has only seven council member / commissioners versus Naperville’s nine; 28 if you combine all four cities.

I’m not saying that annexing those three cities into Naperville is a great idea, but it is an idea. The irritation comes in the fact that all four mayors ran for cover in a hastily prepared press conference with the goal of extinguishing the idea. Their self-preservation, group-answers were:

  • There’s no advantage for annexation
  • The petitions are flawed
  • Everybody is happy with the status quo

The mayors went on to say that petitions were circulated in a ‘haphazard way’ not with serious intent, but as a ‘political stunt’. If anyone knows about political stunts, it’s politicians. Additionally, the audacity of the four mayors to consider it a ‘flawed law’ that allowed a citizen or a group to file the petitions. That in itself speaks loud and clear about the mindset of politicians when it comes to the rights of residents to be heard.

Not one of them stood tall or separated himself or herself from the pack by at least encouraging the idea for discussion and consideration. Apparently government consolidation is only for others.

Show 11 Comments


  1. Bob West

    Add to that the idea of consolidating all the school districts in those same communities. Unfortunately it will never happen. The odds are against the public.
    Every politician makes a career out of self preservation and knows how to get around the will of the people.
    Naperville voted for wards and alderman and the council managed to undo the vote.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      The laws allows anyone to circulate a petition to get any issue on the ballot as a referendum if they are willing to invest the time and resources needed to collect the required signatures (usually 1-3% of the register voter in a community-i.e. Naperville approx. 300 signatures). This same law allows anyone to challenge the validity of petition, again so long as they are will to invest the required time and resources (if no one challenges a petition it will automatically be treated as valid).

      So if you want to consolidate the school districts…fine, circulate a petition, I’ll sign it. But make sure you are getting valid signatures, signatures of registered voters only once each. If you do not and someone (a school board member, union official, teacher, etc) challenges your petition it will most like be invalidated and your referendum will not get on the ballot.

      This is what happened to the Annex petitions. They were challenged by several people and it was determined that: 1) The required number of signatures were not collected. 2) Some of the petition signature pages were duplicates, 3) Some of the signatures did not match the addresses on the petition. 4) Some of the signatures did not match the signatures on file for the registered voter. For these reasons election officials agreed the petitions were not valid so the referendums will not be on the ballot. Because these petition did not even met the initial signature requirement it is thought that the person filing these petitions hoped they would not be challenged, which would have resulted in them being treated as valid and the referendums being placed on the ballots in question.

      Final word of warning. The Annex petitions, by all appearance, were being circulated by people being paid to collect signatures. This is perfectly legal, but such people have a financial incentive to get “creative” with signatures and thus increase the chances your petition will fail if challenged.

  2. Stew Gilgis

    We’re happy with the status quo in unincorporated Naperville because we get better services (example: faster response snow plowing) and lower taxes versus comparable homes in incorporated Naperville. What’s the benefit to us?

    • Jim Haselhorst

      The reason your property taxes are so low is because city residents subsidies your property taxes. If they did not your property taxes would be somewhere between 10 to 20 times greater then they are presently. So for city residents the question is “why should we pay township taxes when there is no benefit to us?”

      • Leiv Mealone

        No one like paying taxes. Especially for things they don’t feel they need or support. Like schools when you have no children, forest preserves when you have allergies and don’t use them, wars in foreign countries, foreign aid to hostile countries, and so on and so on.
        The township taxes are not low because of the small portion Naperville pays, nor would they increase 10-20x if Naperville didn’t pay. Naperville residents only pay a small portion to the township ROADS, which Naperville residents do drive upon. The townships utilize County Sheriffs rather than Naperville Police, so of course, there is no police, or Naperville City salaries or pensions. Townships do not use the library unless they pay extra directly to the library, so there is no library or library pension tax. Please investigate what you are talking about instead of just believing what the council tells you to believe.

        • Jim Haselhorst

          Again, as I have stated repeatedly, you do not have to have children in school to benefit from the taxes paid into the school district. A big part of the valuation of any property is the quality of the school district it is located in (highly rated school – high property values / lower rated school – low property values). Similar benefits come from the other examples you provided. The only services provided by township government that might benefit me in some way is the road services (repair, maintain, plow, etc), which are, by the road commissioner’s own words, a small part of the township spending. And even this, like all other township services, do not need township governance to be provided. There are 17 counties in this state without township government that provide all of this same services without the added expense. They simply are not needed at all, so the best way to give taxpayers the most saving is not consolidation but elimination of these governing bodies.

        • Jim Haselhorst

          As to the 10 to 20 times increase. This comes from the fact that approximately 95% of the property tax funds for the township (and the highway/road department) come for city properties. If these funds were to be taken away the resulting budget deficit would require raising the unincorporated property owners taxes by at least a factor of 10 (assuming drastic spending cuts) to as high as 20 times without any spending cuts.

  3. Gerard H Schilling

    Elementary Mr. Watson.

  4. Jim Haselhorst

    The problem with these petitions is they were based on the assumption that consolidation will always produce reduced spending and other benefits to voters. This is a false assumption. There is no logical or data based argument that can demonstrate consolidation always producing good or positive results.

    It is always easy to see results that would be beneficial, but it is also just as easy to over look the consequence that are detrimental. I pointed out some of the problems with city annexation in the WatchDog’s last post on this subject.

  5. Leiv Mealone

    Dear Mr. Haselhorst, I believe you are now officially the 11th, unelected, and self promoted council member. The reasons you cite for Naperville taking over unincorporated Naperville have also been inflated by the council and debunked by people much smart and far wiser than the current post holders.

    You “pay” township taxes because you drive on township roads, and because your are part of the Naperville Township Community. The amount you pay is miniscule compared to what you pay for Dist. 203, or 204, and 502 schools, the forest preserve, the Dupage Airport, the Library. Do you have any kids in the schools? How often do you use the Airport? How about the forest preserve? Do you check out books and do research or do you download and google? There may be a lot of fat to trim from the budget to lower taxes, but forcibly taking over unincorporated Naperville will not be the big pay off it has been touted to be. Based on Naperville’s “saving tax payer money schemes” from the past, it could very well end up raising your taxes and costing you more. Are you even in Naperville Township, or are you Dupage, Lisle, Wheatland, Winfield, Milton, Township. Are you in Dupage county or Will county?

    • Jim Haselhorst

      I have never supported forcing unincorporated property owners to be annexed into Naperville (it simply is not practical). I do support providing these property owners incentives to request annexation. I also support elimination of townships (and all township associated government – roads departments etc). These taxing bodies account for over 20% of the government in our state. The fact they are not needed is demonstrate by the 17 counties in this state that do not have townships (or township road departments) and everyone still gets the services they need. The amount of tax is not what is at issue (as I have state before) it is the fact that I am paying taxes to an government organization that is simply not needed, making all the tax funds they spend a waste.

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