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Aldermen seek more info on dissolving township

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Aldermen Monday said they want more information before they vote on whether to schedule a referendum that would ask voters to decide whether to wipe out township government in Evanston.

Told by City Attorney Grant Farrar that, acting as townshp trustees, they do have the power under the state constitution to submit such a proposal to voters, Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he'd like to know more about how much a referendum would cost and who might object to the referendum.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she had a lot of questions about how the general assistance program now run by the township would be administered if the township structure was abolished.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked how Chicago, which no longer has township government handles its equivalent to general assistance.

Township Supervisor Pat Vance said in Chicago the program is called "transitional assistance" and is administered through the state department of human services.

Vance added that the amount of aid provided varies widely, with some townships providing up to $600 a month. She said Evanston Township now provides recipients about $400 a month while Chicago offers about $200.

Township Supervisor Pat Vance.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, and Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, both said they'd like to know more about the possibility of getting legislation adopted in Springfield that would create an alternative form of township government for Evanston.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he hoped to have answers to at least some of their questions in time for the City Council's next meeting on Monday, Sept. 26.

Farrar told the aldermen that to get a referendum on the March 20, 2012 primary election ballot the aldermen, acting as the township board, would have to vote to authorize the referendum by Jan. 3.

The aldermen also voted 6-2 to approve the township budget for the remaining six months of its fiscal year. That decision will have to be confirmed at the Sept. 26 meeting because Rainey voted against giving the approval immediate effect.

The vote came after efforts by Grover to incorporate cost savings measures proposed by the city's administrative services director, JoEllen Earl, failed in the face of pushback from Vance, who argued that some of the ideas for sharing operating expenses with the city couldn't be implemented because the township had already spent the money for those services for this year.

Earl proposed savings totalling almost 7 percent of the township's full-year $1.26 million budget.

Asked how much savings she might be able to achieve in the rest of the year, Vance said she couldn't say.

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