Evanston aldermen have approved seeking proposals from consultants to conduct a management audit designed to find ways to increase efficiencies and reduce the cost of township government.
The approval came at Wednesday night’s Human Services Committee meeting, despite an admission by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz that he’s not sure how much the study will cost.
“There are not a lot of firms that would have the expertise to understand the Illinois township system,” Bobkiewicz said, “and we want to make sure that whatever information the report brings back is worthwile and meaningful.”
The city manager said that cost figures for the study would be determined based on the responses from consultants to the request for proposals and that aldermen, sitting as the town board, would have the opportunity to call off the study if it ended up appearing to be too expensive.
Bobkiewicz has estimated that the township budget, which now totals about $1.5 million a year, could be trimmed by $300,000 to $400,000 if the city took over the delivery of township services.
The vote comes the same week the head of the watchdog Better Government Association argued that townships “are a relic from the horse-and-buggy era” that probably should be abolished.
And a new report from the Census Bureau confirms that Illinois retains its ranking as the state with more units of local government than any other state in the nation.
That’s 6,968 governmental units, compared to 4,905 in the second-ranked state, Pennsylvania.
Only 20 states have townships, and Illinoois has 1,400 of them.
In an advisory referendum in March, Evanston residents voted 2-1 in favor of abolishing the township, but lobbyists in Springfield for township governments have blocked legislation that would let residents take a binding vote on the issue.
Assuming the project stays on track, Bobkiewicz says he hopes to have the consultant’s final report by mid-November.