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Evanston Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard’s first budget appeared dead on arrival Monday night as trustees ripped into his proposal to increase township spending by 29 percent.

Supervisor Gary Gaspard.

Evanston Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard’s first budget appeared dead on arrival Monday night as trustees ripped into his proposal to increase township spending by 29 percent.

This budget “is completely out of line,” said Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward. “We have a fiscal problem in this community. To present a budget like this is insulting.”

Alderman Coleen Burrus.

“I get the sense that you’ve not quite gotten out of campaign mode,” said Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward. “You have a lot of fresh new ideas, but by your own admission have not gotten oversight of general assistance funds. You have to assume that role immediately.”

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she and Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, had met with Gaspard to discuss the budget, which she called “embarrassing.”

“You didn’t take any of the recommendations that we made,” Holmes added. “If we have questions, everybody else is going to have questions about this budget, becaue it doesn’t make sense.”

A parade of representatives from social service agencies turned out at the Human Services Committee meeting to criticize the budget — in part because of a conflict between what Gaspard said in his budget message and what the budget numbers showed.

In the message he said there was no money to contract for mental health services — but the numbers did show some funds allocated for those programs, but just half as much as last year.

In the budget, Gaspard called for hiring three new case worker and a community outreach coordinator.

Paul Selden, head of Connections for the Homeless, said taxpayers would save money if the township contracted out services to the non-profits, because while the salaries proposed for the new township jobs were similar to what non-profits would pay, the benefits package the township provides was much richer.

At his agency, Selden said, benefits add about 21 percent to payroll costs, while at the township benefits add 50 percent.

The non-profits already do case management work, Selden said, and there’s no need for the township to expand its role there.

But Gaspard said he wanted his office “to do more than just signing checks. I like to help people to move forward.”

Seth Green of Y.O.U.

Seth Green, of Youth Organizations Umbrella, said the non-profits also leverage government fund with grants and private contributions.

“For every dollar we receive from the city,” Green said, “we’re bringing in $30 from other sources.”

Under state law, the budget, which covers the period from April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014, was scheduled to have been adopted by June 30.

With that deadline already missed, committee members voted to recommend that the full township board next Monday approve an interim budget calling for continued spending at last year’s levels through the end of September.

Evanston Township has the same boundaries as the City of Evanston and the city’s aldermen also serve as members of the town board.

Gov. Pat Quinn last week signed a bill sought by the city that would let the City Council schedule a binding referendum on abolishing the township and having the city take over providing its services.

If the township were abolished, it would eliminate the jobs of Gaspard and the incoming township assessor, Sharon Eckersall.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. Gaspard and Vetting of Candidates

    What a mess! Gaspard's budget is embarrasing for all involved.Take a look at Gaspard's endorsements here–basically everyone in local politics.  Banks was more qualified but Gaspard had sewn up the endorsements early.

    http://www.garygaspard.com/endorsements.html

    For the same reason, we have a Republican Senator because the Dems didn't do a good enough job of vetting Alexi Giannoulias.

    We need better vetting of candidates prior to endorsement.

    1. Gaspard an Embarrasement

      I think that the people who endorsed Gaspard should admit their extraordinary mistake. Also, Giannoulias is not a senator because he was a failure as a banker and the treasure of Illinois. His only plus was that he played basketball with obama.

  2. Eliminate the Township

    This budget proposal is another reason to eliminate the Township. I'm pleased to see that Township Trustees are exercising good judgment and recognize the absurdity of this budget. I'm pleased to see that leaders of important organizations, YOU and Connections for the Homeless, are exercising good judgment and speaking out in public. Now let's all exercise good judgment and eliminate the Township. Our community can continue to provide the same important general assistance to citizens in need, yet at the same time save taxpayers money. ELIMINATE the TOWNSHIP ASAP !!

  3. The joke that is Evanston Township

    Township "government" — especially with this guy Gaspard — is and will be forevermore a joke. It's just an endlessly deep money pit, providing costly services that can either be privatized or taken on by the City. I vote for privatization largely because I am ferociously anit-big-government (here or in Springfield or in Washington). Perhaps the township concept once had a reason to exist — in the horse-and-buggy days — but to keep this outdated and crazily expensive governmental entity around is a thoroughgoing insult to every Evanston taxpayer.

    1. The joke is on you

      First, while Gaspard is a joke, he is probably the better of the two elected officials that we have at the Township level.   Probably because no serious person would run for the Township offices.

      Second, while we should get rid of the township…. you lost me when you said "providing costly services that can either be privatized".  Privatizing?   Like the Chicago parking meters?  No thanks.

  4. Benefits percentage

    Township benefits of 50% versus non-profits of 21% — it is no wonder that we have a pension problem.

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