Evanston aldermen tonight will get a recommendation from the city manager that they move forward with plans for a voter referendum next year to abolish Evanston Township.

The referendum, if approved by voters, would let the aldermen permanently remove their second hats as township trustees and would abolish the jobs of the townshp’s two elected officials, Supervisor Pat Vance and Assessor Bonnie Wilson.

In a memo, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz also recommends that the aldermen authorize staff to seek amendments to state law that would clarify the voters’ right to abolish the township, which has the same boundaries as the city, and specify that the city should take over administration of the general assistance program now run by the township.

In a separate memo, Grant Farrar, who serves as corporation counsel for both the city and the township board, says the confusing state of the law about the process for dissolving a township makes it desirable to seek special legislation on the issue.

He also said that because of the potential conflict of interest between his two roles, he’s expressing no opnion about whether abolishing the township “is necessary or appropriate.”

And he adds that if a legal challenge was filed against the dissolution effort, the law department would have to recuse itself from representing any party in the case.

Ongoing disputes over what some aldermen see as wasteful spending by the township, and complaints that the township assessor’s office merely duplicates services available from the county, have prompted increasing calls in recent years from some aldermen that the township be abolished — calls that have gained added force as the city has struggled with a series of tight budgets.

The earliest potential date for the referendum would be at the March 20 general election next year.

Farrar’s memo suggests that the proposed modifications to state law set Jan. 1, 2014, as the date the township would cease to exist — to match the expiration of Assessor Wilson’s current term.

Related stories

Aldermen seek more info on abolishing township

Attorney: Evanston voters could abolish township

Suffredin calls for abolishing township

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Let the voters decide!!!!!

    It will be interesting to see how the Council acts on this recommendation.

    My guess is they will either table it, kick it back to some committee or make no decision and put the issue in the hands of state legislators. Any of those choices would be a great disservice to Evanstonians.

    Let the voters decide!!!!

    It was only last year that the City Council voted for an 80 percent increase in the Evanston Township budget. This year, the City Council approved a pay raise for the deputy township assessor, whose job I presume is also on the chopping block should the Township be abolished.

    I would also like to know whatever became of Township Assessor Bonnie Wilson's application for a pension. Did Wilson, a part-timer who sets her own hours, qualify for a pension? If she did, what kind of precedent would that set for other part-time Evanston union employees? Even a few aldermen inquired about getting a pension after learning about Wilson's pension application.

    Most if not all members on the City Council are Democrats. Bonnie Wilson is a former president of the Evanston Democrat party.

    We all know about the Democrats' incestous relationship with government unions. It's also interesting how some aldermen are considering the creation of "an alternate form of township government" if voters abolish the existing Township. So even if voters abolish the Township we have some aldermen who want to create ANOTHER form of government similar to the Township!!!!! It's insane.

    How much you wanna bet that if voters do abolish the Evanston Township that Vance and Wilson will file suit against the city. 

    Heck, it ain't their money, and they've got nothing to lose.

  2. Township Assessor’s Term

    I believe that legislation was changed so that the Township Assessor's term would expire with the election in April which in this case would be April, 2013 not Jan. 1, 2014.

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