Chicago – Transform Illinois, a statewide collaborative of elected officials and civic and research organizations dedicated to supporting more efficient local governments, is pleased to announce its second annual Transformer Awards, which recognize State, Local and Citizen Transformers whose efforts exemplify the coalition’s mission. The 2016 Transformers received their awards at a public event on Oct. 5 at the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago.
The 2016 State Transformers are Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), who both championed local government efficiency by sponsoring several significant pieces of legislation in 2016. “During my time in the Illinois Senate, I’ve championed bills that make government more efficient,” said Sen. Cullerton. “It’s been very rewarding to see the improvements in service that these efforts have brought to our taxpayers.” “Now is the time when we see an opportunity to move on these issues,” said Rep. Demmer. “Everyone’s talking about it, and Illinoisans are fed up. It’s exciting to see so many people talking about government efficiency.”
The 2016 Local Transformer is the Village of Algonquin, which stands out for its creative use of innovative intergovernmental agreements with neighbors to deliver better services to residents. “Residents care about service; they don’t think in terms of geographic boundaries,” said Village of Algonquin President John Schmitt. “To them, it doesn’t really matter who performs the services as long as they do a good job.”
The 2016 Citizen Transformer is the Century Hill Street Lighting District, which recently voted to dissolve and consolidate with DuPage County, becoming the first government entity to do so using powers granted by Public Act 98-1002, which authorizes smaller units of government to consolidate with a neighboring county or municipality by a vote of its board. “Consolidating our lighting district has meant better customer service and more efficiency,” said Tom Cieslak, former board trustee for the Century Hill Street Lighting District. “That’s a win-win for the district, the county, and our taxpayers.” The Oct. 5 featured a keynote address by Christopher R. Berry, associate professor in the Harris School, director of the Center for Municipal Finance, and faculty director of the Master of Science Program in Computational Analysis and Public Policy, at University of Chicago. “At a time when frustration toward government seems to be at an all-time high, it’s notable that there are champions at every level of government who are truly committed to improving efficiency and services for residents,” said DuPage County Chair Dan Cronin. “Government and citizen-led initiatives across Illinois are pioneering new ways to deliver better government services at a lower cost, and Transform Illinois will continue to highlight these efforts to bring them to scale.”
The Transform Illinois collaborative includes DuPage County, Metropolitan Planning Council, Better Government Association, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Northern Illinois University, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois and League of Women Voters. In 2016, the collaborative successfully advocated for five bills, which were approved by the General Assembly, giving local governments the tools they need to gain efficiencies.