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Assessor’s term ends with flowers

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Her job eliminated by the voters, Evanston Township Assessor Bonnie Wilson drew praise from the mayor and aldermen Tuesday night for her work helping residents challenge their property tax assessments.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said Wilson had done an excellent job under difficult circumstances.

Wilson, a real estate agent, was recruited to run for the job in 2009 by city leaders dissatisfied with the performance of former assessor Sharon Eckersall.

When Wilson decided not to seek re-election last year, Eckersall ran unopposed to reclaim the position, but died before she could take office. So the town board appointed Wilson to continue in the post.

Wilson had opposed last month's referendum to abolish the township. But the County Clerk now has certified that 63.68 percent of the voters who turned out wanted to eliminate the extra layer of local government.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says that as part of the city's takover of town functions, he plans to hire a new staffer in the administrative services department to provide taxpayer advice on at least a part-time basis.

In addition to the elected part-time assessor, the township assessor's office had had two full-time employees.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, argued that the city, instead of hiring a new employee, should farm the work out to Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffreden, whose office also provides property tax appeal assistance.

But Rainey conceded that she lacks sufficient support among other aldermen to derail the manager's plan.

Bobkiewicz, who was appointed by the town board as township supervisor after the resignation last October of supervisor Gary Gaspard, says three township employees handling the general assistance program will be transferred to the city's health department next month.

The town board is composed of the city's mayor and aldermen and the township has the same geographic boundaries as the city.

Health Director Evonda Thomas-Smith.

The city's health director, Evonda Thomas-Smith, said she's organized events to get general assistance recipients enrolled for health coverage under federal Affordable Care Act and to have health services delivered through the new Erie Family Health Center in Evanston.

The number of people receiving general assistance payments has nearly doubled since the city started supervising the program last fall, but administrative overhead costs have been substantially reduced.

A final township meeting to wrap up the township's business is scheduled for April 28.

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