The fight for Prospect Heights: Is the suburb about to disappear?

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Is the Chicago suburb of Prospect Heights about to disappear? And will it be its own residents who wipe it off the map?

A better question might be: Why would they want to do that?

It may sound far-fetched, but the truth is, there’s a push in Illinois right now to consolidate and streamline governments to cut costs.

Former Prospect Heights mayor Rodney Pace is one of the architects of something that’s become known, somewhat ominously, as “The Initiative.”

There are no property taxes in Prospect Heights. But some residents fear the small suburb will soon need money. In Springfield, there’s a bill in committee that would let residents dissolve a unit of government, even their own town, through a referendum.  So prospect heights could be absorbed by its neighbors like Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Northbrook.

But then there would be taxes.

It’s an idea that’s been popping-up for years. The verdict every time has been don’t fix what isn’t broke. And this town, the mayor insists, is not broke.

“We are so solvent that I keep saying the same thing, “ says Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer. “I think we are the most solvent city in the state of Illinois.”

The argument in favor of this is that this one consolidation would wipe out several small tax-collecting arms of government at a time when experts say Illinois has way too many, well over 500,000 which is thousands more than the next closest state.