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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.

Related story

Attorney: Evanston voters could abolish township

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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13 Comments

  1. To Be or Not To Be…a Township

    The big question is to ascertain what is the COST?  Who benefits?  How? As in all things political…follow the money.  Somebody, somewhere, stands to profit.

  2. Some aldermen appear quesy to close township office

    Aldermen Melissa Wynne and Mark Tendam want to "create an alternative form of township government for Evanston."

    So Wynne and Tendam want to abolish the Evanston Township government and create another form of government? Why bother?

    Why does Alderman Don Wilson want to know who would object to the referendum? Why did he not ask who would support the referendum?  I think I know why. It's politics.

    Bonnie Wilson was elected last year as the Evanston Township Assessor, and Wilson is a member and former president of the Evanston Democrat Party. The previous Township Assessor who lost the election is a Republican. And just after Bonnie Wilson was elected the Evanston City Council, including Don Wilson, voted to increase the Township Assessor's budget 80 percent!!!

    The Council increased the Township Assessor's budget in the middle of a severe recession and hired a township deputy assessor the same year other city employees were laid off due to serious city budget problems. My guess is the Council, comprised of all Democrats, wanted to use the Township Assessor's office for political purposes. 

    The Township budget that the Council just approved includes a 22 percent pay raise for the deputy Township Assessor, Nick Pavletic. Patricia Vance extended the township lease to 2013 without Council approval. And let's not forget that Bonnie Wilson who works part-time and sets her own schedule allegedly applied to receive a pension.

    Folks, the Township Assessor's Office is purely duplicative services. Cook County offers the same services. The Township Assessor's Office should have been eliminated back in 2008.

    The Evanston Township Assessor's Office is, as Wally B. described recreation centers, a luxury item. Vance and Bonnie Wilson have openly challenged the effort to dissolve the Township.

    Let voters take up their challenge, and we'll see what happens. 

    1. Duplicative

      Favorite word of a DUPLICATIVE BLOGGER.  Get another line AL and good luck during the second installment property tax bill time frame over at the Skokie courthouse.  My friends there are expecting the most congested year since the 2007 assessment explosion hit them in the fall of 2008.  Nick Pavletic

      1. Facts from the Deputy Assessor…

        Nick- 

           Seeing as you are deputy assessor for the township, I can see why you are defending your job.

          However,  I don't think anyone is personally attacking you- From what I've read about you, you are doing an amazing job at the position you were hired to do & people want to keep you as an Evanston employee.

          However, this isn't about the quality of your work- this is about the best use of your time and our money.    

             Could you clarify-  Your role is to help people lower their property tax bill? 

        What services do you provide that go above and beyond what people could find online?  

          Why should the city continuing paying over 1 million dollars a year to keep open the township?    

        Where is that money going?  

          

         

         

         

      2. The cold hard truth

        Nick Pavletic,

        I knew you would ignore my questions.

        I filed my tax protest and successfully contested my property taxes all the way to the Cook County Board of Review all by myself. It's not that hard. Most property owners employ attorneys.

        When I went to Cook County to file there was one person in front of me.

        The Evanston Township Assessor's Office is a duplicative service. That's not a line, Mr. Pavletic, that's the cold hard truth.

  3. Suspicious of this measure

    I'm suspicious of Larry Suffredin's support of this proposed measure. He's not exactly a small-government kind of guy. Would certain township "services" (read "powers") be distributed among allies of his?

  4. The referendum process may be more difficult than it seems

    I could be wrong but I believe City of Evanston attorneys are incorrect that an individual township can dissolve by referendum.  I believe, for townships to dissolve, it has to be the whole county or not  — therefore the referendum would have to be Cook County-wide with the question being should all townships in Cook County be dissolved.  Seventeen counties in Illinois do not have townships, but, again, it is countywide.  It also may change the form of county government as I believe those 17 counties have a different form of county government.

    1. Township dissolution

      If you'd read Evanston Now's previous story, Attorney: Evanston voters could abolish township, you'd know why the city attorney believes the state constitution's provision for township dissolution trumps the statute you mention that discusses abolishing township's county-wide.

      Of course, one lawyer's opinion is always subject to being challenged by any other lawyer.

      — Bill

      1. Better educated

        Thanks.  I'm now better educated on the city attorney's position.  However, as you point out, such a strategy hinges on a very unpredictable court decision.  Don't get me wrong, I'm for abolishing all townships statewide, but I think a better strategy would be to first try by getting state statute changed.  Surely there would be strong opposition from the Townships, but the time has never been more ripe for a change of this kind. 

  5. township assessor

    It's misleading to say there was an 80% increase in the first budget of the Township Assessor.  This percentage is only due to the giant cut to the previous administrations final budget.  That cut was used to offset some the cost of the gargantuan legal bills caused by the action of the previous Assessor.

    Additionally, for every $1,000 of (2009) property taxes paid in 2010, less than one dollar was used to fund the Evanston Township Assessor's office. 

    For every $1,000 (2009) property taxes paid in 2010, $6.80 was used to fund ALL Township responsibilities.

    Once the 2010 property tax bill is mailed, I'll give this same breakdown for Township expenditures.

    Factual information is very hard to argue against.  Opinions, however……..

    Nick Pavletic

    1. Let voters decide the fate of the Township Assessor’s Office!

      The City Council added 80 percent to the Evanston Township Assessor's budget during city budget cuts and a severe Recession. That's not an opinion: that's a fact.

      If the previous Township Assessor's Office survived on budget cuts then why can't the current administration?

      If you're going to breakdown numbers then tell us Mr. Pavletic, for every (2009) property taxes paid in 2010 how much was used to fund the branch libraries?

      If the City Council is looking for ways to close or privatize the Robert Crown Center, (at one time the Chandler Rec Center), the Noyes Arts Center, the Recycling Center, the Evanston Arts Center and likely the Ecology Center then why should the Evanston Township Center not suffer the same fate? The Township services offered can be found elsewhere in Cook County and non-profits.

      The City Council just passed a temporary budget for the Evanston Township. Was there an increase in that budget, Mr. Pavletic? Did someone at the Township Assessor's Office just get a pay increase during city budget problems and a severe Recession? Someone with the initials NP? How much was that pay raise?

      One last question – maybe you can clarify the confusion Evanstonians have about whether the Township Assessor and former Evanston Democrat party leader Bonnie Wilson applied for a pension. Did Wilson apply for the pension? Just the facts, please.

    2. Every dollar does matter

      The same logic of every $1 could be applied to funding the north (and south) branch libraries-

      and if you've followed the arguments over that……

      Every dollar does matter.   

       

       

       

    3. Less than a dollar.

      You always hear this argument from people trying to justify taxation of every nature.  Oh, its less than a dollar per $1000, it's only $6.80 per $1000 paid.

      I especially love it when people compare proposed increases to the price of a latte at Starbucks.  Oh, it's less than a price of a single latte at Starbucks so what's the big deal, that's not asking too much, who can't afford that. 

      Deal is, people now have a mountain of these Starbuck lattes stacking up to pay for every little proposal or tax revenue justification that you now have to think twice before spending the money to actually drink one.

      I believe the average taxpayer in the United States now works around 6 months on average to pay for all those little latte's that government of all levels drink up.  Here in Illinois we are on the wrong side of that average and probably work even longer to pay for our latte's. 

      $6.80 poorly spent is 6.80 poorly spent, that is the only factual information that is relevant.

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