Daily Dose: Local history, Treasurer Rutherford's spending, cutting government, tomorrow's column

Daily Dose: Local history, Treasurer Rutherford's spending, cutting government, tomorrow's column

Local history

In 1911, Democrat William Coughlin was elected mayor of Champaign yesterday. Democrats also won the office of city attorney and took four of the seven aldermanic seats. Republicans won in Urbana, with B.F. Boggs defeating W.E. Coffin for mayor. Republicans also took the offices of city clerk, treasurer and attorney. In Danville, “Young Turk” William Lewman defeated incumbent Mayor Louis Platt. Few votes were bought, according to authorities, because of the presence of scores of detectives employed by the vote fraud grand jury and by the mayoral candidates.

In 1961, Gov. Otto Kerner proposed the first $3 billion budget in state history, calling for $378 million in new taxes including another half-cent increase in the sales tax. Kerner’s budget for the University of Illinois is $13.8 million below the UI board of trustees request, but Sen. Everett Peters, R-St. Joseph, immediately announced the figure is “subject to review.” It still is $17.4 million more than what the UI is getting in the current biennium.

Treasurer Rutherford's spending

From last Wednesday's N-G column ...

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford got a nice PR bump last week with the announcement that his office has eliminated half of its vehicle fleet and almost three-quarters of office cellphones.
“The fleet creates a number of fixed costs at taxpayer expense. Reimbursing mileage for state employees to occasionally use their personal vehicles to perform official duties keeps our costs manageable,” Rutherford said. “Every member of my staff owns a personal cellphone; the state doesn’t need to issue duplicate phones to most of these people. Taxpayers are demanding smaller government with balanced budgets. I hear them, and I’m finding ways to satisfy those expectations.”
The press release was picked up by several media outlets, and even won praise.
On the other hand, figures show that Rutherford’s spending on personnel — generally the largest expense in any operation — has increased.
The office payroll in February was 190, the same as six months earlier when Rutherford’s predecessor, Alexi Giannoulias, was running the office.
Total spending on regular positions in the treasurer’s office was actually up in February from earlier months. It was $217,732, an increase from $179,117 in September, $199,837 in October and $198,571 in November. In March, the treasurer’s office spent $212,781 on regular payroll.
Rutherford’s a very good politician who could be the GOP candidate for governor in 2014. I suspect he'll eventually make more substantive cuts in his office.

Cutting government down to size

From the Daily Herald ...

Do you think township government provides critical services none other could offer? What about the mosquito abatement or water reclamation districts? Do you think Illinois needs more governments than any other state in the nation?
We didn’t think so. Neither do we. And we’re pleased to note there are some new efforts to do something about our government excess moving their way through Springfield right now.
State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, is sponsoring one that made it out of committee and is headed for Senate debate. Link’s plan would create a commission whose goal would be to recommend local governments to dissolve or merge throughout the state. As the Daily Herald’s Kerry Lester and Mike Riopell reported, legislators would consider the recommendations and vote to either approve or reject all of them. This approach, similar to how the federal government has handled closing military bases, seems like a smart one. We would hope legislators would feel pressure to approve fewer governments no matter how loud the howls from vested interests grow. After all, Illinois has 6,994 units of local government. That is not something to prize even in good economic times.
A second plan by state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, would allow township jobs to be eliminated by referendum. Others, as noted here before, are pushing to eliminate township government altogether, including Avon Township Supervisor Sam Yingling. After Daily Herald staff writer Jake Griffin recently reported that suburban townships charged taxpayers more than $1 million last year for health care, we are more ardent than ever in our firm belief these governments need to go. Other, more visible governments can and should absorb the services they provide the poor and elderly. The fact that nearly 30 townships offered elected officials free health care last year is outrageous.


Tomorrow's column: Big changes coming to Champaign County Board



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