It is the slam dunk of local government collaboration.
Yes, let's move forward to merge River Forest's township government with village government. That's the gist of the bill Rep. Chris Welch (D-7th) will introduce this week in Springfield. Our understanding is that Welch's bill is written in such a way that it applies only to River Forest, though it begs the broader question of whether all township governments — or at the very least, those with coterminous borders with a municipality, Oak Park, for instance — ought to be consolidated.
But let's start with the case for eliminating River Forest's township government because the case for such action is so obvious.
If passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, Welch's bill would allow River Forest's village government to place a question on the ballot as early as November asking voters for the OK to merge the governments.
Here's why this is so easy:
River Forest's township government is tiny, with an annual budget of just a half-million dollars. It's so tiny that for many years it has outsourced half of its critical functions — aiding local seniors and youth — to neighboring Oak Park Township under annual contracts. That makes good sense and a similar arrangement could continue after a merger.
Further, a merger would force the transfer of the township's assets to village government. Because local township trustees also function as the board of managers of the local Civic Center Authority/Community Center, the merger would shift the River Forest Community Center to village control. Such an action could potentially resolve the ongoing and unnecessary tensions that exist between the Community Center and the River Forest Park District.
Kudos to River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci and Welch for moving this idea forward. The two have reportedly been discussing government efficiencies in recent months and this effort is one outcome.