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Townships Could Revert To Gravel Roads

Charlie Schlenker
Alexis Kalish (left) and Sally Rudolph took part in a two-year study of McLean County governmental bodies for the League of Women Voters.

McLean County's rural road system has been a positive for decades, with a solid network of paved county and township roads covering an area close to the size of the state of Rhode Island.

But Alexis Kalish of the McLean County League of Women Voters said a two-year League study involving more than 30 volunteers showed concerns about rural population loss and reduction in revenue, particularly at the township level.

"They might have to reduce the level of treatment that they provide the roads. Instead of tar and chip, they might have to have gravel roads," said Kalish.

And the League's Sally Rudolph said that policy choice may be in the near future, not well out on the horizon.

"It sounds like something way in the future, but we were hearing some pretty alarming things," said Rudolph.

Rudolph and Kalish also said the study shows most governmental bodies work well together, though better communication is always a plus.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has urged consolidation of small units of government since he was elected. But the League study of more than 100 taxing bodies in McLean County indicates there's not a lot of inefficiency. Rudolph said Sangamon County's League process even found in some cases it is better not to consolidate.

"It is far easier and perhaps more productive to use informal agreements to share services or service providers than it is to make structural changes to the authority of existing governmental units or taxing bodies," said Rudolph.

The study also recommended greater leadership development efforts.

Rudolph said the study made it clear there is no one size fits all for the state.

She said there is a lot of potential for the McLean County Mayor's Association to do more in discussing common issues. She said a group of township officials also could serve as a valuable communications tool.

Hear the entire interview with Alexis Kalish and Sally Rudolph including the challenges ahead.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.