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Board votes to audit township services

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Evanston Township trustees voted Tuesday night to have an audit conducted of how the township provides its services.

The audit concept, proposed by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, postponed a decision on what to do next after the voters said by a 2-1 margin earlier this year that they want the board to continue efforts to dissolve the township.

The aldermen appeared to be deeply split between two of four "next step" options proposed by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

Rainey, plus Aldermen Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, and Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said they favored negotiating a formal intergovermental cooperation agreement between the township and city that would see the city take over most or all of the township's functions.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she favored continued pursuit of informal cooperation between the two governmental entities.

"The township seems to be moving to make some cost cuts and cooperate more with the city," Holmes suggested.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said continued informal cooperation could be a precursor to a formal agreement.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said he was concerned that a formal agreement would end up doing away with the township staff.

But Rainey said that's why an audit is needed. "We don't know enough about how the township functions," Rainey said. "There are a lot of people working over there, and we need to understand how it's administered."

When the proposal to continue with informal cooperation was put to a vote, it failed 3-5, with Braithwaite, Holmes and Wilson voting for it.

There seemed to be little appetite on the board for continuing to pursue legislation to give Evanston voters the right to dissolve the township, after a bill to that effect stalled in Springfield this spring.

Nor did there seem to be much interest in the fourth option Bobkiewicz proposed — of doing nothing.

The trustees told Bobkiewicz to identify a firm to conduct the audit.

The board voted 7-1 without debate to introduce the township budget, with a final vote set for June 11.

And it voted to refer a proposed set of town board procedural rules to the July 2 Human Services Committee meeting to give trustees time to send questions about the rules to the city attorney for review and response ahead of that meeting.

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