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Evanston aldermen — sitting as township trustees Monday night — asked their attorney to research how the township might legally be abolished.

The move came in the midst of an hour-long debate over the township’s budget that ended with aldermen unwilling to approve a new full year spending plan.

Instead they authorized what was billed as a 90-day budget extension. Since the township budget year started April 1, it wasn’t entirely clear whether the budget approved might only cover the period through the end of this month.

But City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said after the meeting that he believed the intent of the vote was to authorize funding through Sept. 30.

Under state law, the trustees had to approve some budget for the township by June 30, although not necessarily a full-year spending plan.

Although not entirely clear, it appeared that the short budget extension authorized spending at the higher levels contained in the budget proposed by the township supervisor and township assessor for the new year, rather than at fiscal year 2010-11 spending levels.

The short budget extension was designed in part to buy time for the city manager to work with township officials on possible shared services that might trim some of what trustees said appeared to be bloated township expenses.

Those included spending $1,500 for payroll processing services for three or four employees in the township assessor’s office, one of several expense items attacked by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

Focusing on that item, though, drew fire from Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, who said the trustees shouldn’t be wasting time arguing over what amounts to $120 a month.

A move by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, to eliminate a proposed 22 percent pay hike for Deputy Assessor Nick Pavletic was rejected on a 6-3 vote.

Holmes said that given the city’s tough financial times, she couldn’t support a pay hike of more than 4 percent for any city or township employee.

But Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said that while she believes overall township spending is too high, she’s gotten calls about how wonderful the deputy assessor is and is in favor of merit pay.

“If you give everybody the same increase, you won’t be able to get good people,” Burrus argued.

Pavletic now makes $45,000 a year, and his boss, Township Assessor Bonnie Wilson, had proposed raising that to $55,000.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, joined by Rainey and Burrus, pushed for a commitment from City Attorney Grant Farrar about how fast he could report back on the legal options for dissolving the township.

Farrar said he couldn’t do it in 30 days, which led Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, to amend his initial motion to approve a 30 day budget to call for 90 days instead.

Grover said members of the Human Service Committee had been reviewing the budget since February, but remained so dissatisfied with it that they forwarded it to the full board of trustees without a recommendation as the deadline for action approached.

The township budget totals $1.26 million, and Rainey suggested that the township — which now has budget reserves of about $1 million — should start spending down those reserves, to reduce the future burden on taxpayers.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. The General Assistance budget

    The General Assistance budget represented .52% of the total amount of taxes paid on the 2009 property tax bill.  The Township budget was .16% of the total amount of taxes paid on the 2009 property tax bill.  This is a total of .68% of the property taxes paid by Evanston residents in calendar year 2010.

    Because the Township Assessor's budget was 53.7% of the Township budget, the Evanston Township Assessor's budget represented less than one tenth of one percent of the total 2009 property tax bill! 

    A $250,000 home, with only the minimum Homeowners exemption (6000 of Equalized Assessed Value) included in the calculation, paid $4.80 in 2010 to fund the Evanston Township Assessor's office.  Any other exemption received by a taxpayer lowered the amount paid below $4.80.

     

    Nicholas B. Pavletic III

    Deputy Assessor of Evanston Township

  2. Once again government 100, taxpayers 0

    If the Council can't see their hand in front of their face enough to eliminate ASAP the Township, then there is not much chance of them ever coming to grips with the city finance.  And to top it off a 22% increase for a position that is not even needed let alone a 'Deputy.'

    "A move by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, to eliminate a proposed 22 percent pay hike for Deputy Assessor Nick Pavletic was rejected on a 6-3 vote."

  3. First what does the Township Assessor even do ?

    Does the Township Assessor even have any power or are they just a place to sound off at [like a psychologist just sits there and says [nodding] "I understand you are feeling _____, why do you think you are treated this way"?

    Last assessment I tried to get an answer from the Township and the three County Assessor candidates on why our assessment was not lowered given the changes in the market.  I supplied all the info. that would have possibly been needed.  Nothing from the Township and the three candidates said they would answer but none did—and the Assessor finally rejected the appeal one day before a hearing with the final appeal with the County was due. 

    I'd also asked why our building was listed at $190,000 but was not selling for close to that but the two buildings next door [mirror images of each other] had previously been valued at $330,000 but this time one of them was dropped to $130,000 despite a unit being sold for $295,000—again no answer.

    So with County, Township or Deputy assessors, I have a hard time believing any make a difference.

  4. What is the General Assistance portion of the Township?

    Since all of the information regarding tax assessments (i.e. getting PIN numbers, finding the assessed values of neighboring properties, etc.) is now easily available on the both the Cook County Assessor's web page and even on the City of Evanston's "About my Place" link, there is no longer assistance needed.  That is not to say that someone doesn't need to know how to do research on the internet, but that is a different problem.  It appears that the "Assessor's" portion of the Evanston Township budget is no longer needed because the information is now so easy to obtain.

    The bigger and less understandable question is what the rest of the money is for.  What sort of "General Assistance" do they provide and to whom?  What is the criteria for such assistance? 

    1. General Assistance

      I've been battling a life threatening illness without insurance and have even had to sell my bedding, shoes, and clothing to survive these past few years. The partner I was living with during this agonizing struggle just left me homeless and destitute with no prior warning. Without the general assistance program, I would be dead right now, not just living under a lovely Evanston bridge. And oh, yeah, I am a white, highly-educated female who has been forced to work ridiculous overtime roughly 86 hours a week since I was 20 yrs old, that would be 22 yrs ago, and I'm sure my lifetime of intense tax-paying has built your privileged children a schoolyard full of playground equipment at least once, so, can I get an 'AMEN'?

  5. Nick Pavletic Rocks!

    While I'm all for consolidation, I think any consolidation needs to include retaining Nick Pavletic at $55K annually. This guy is superb! And no, I have no relationship with him other than my interaction through the Evanston Township Office. He is articulate, knowledgeable, responsive, and self-directed. He's the type of person we want as our Deputy Assessor. (Note, we need someone to fight for us against the County Assessor and who better than someone who worked for the County Assessor for more than a decade.) Perhaps we ought to discuss whether we need to have an elected Township Assessor. Eliminating that elected position, and rolling Mr. Pavletic up under the City, would save some money plus any potential pension costs set aside for the Assessor, and retain the knowledge and experience offered by Nick Pavletic. 

    1. Keep Nick Pavletic – couldn’t agree more

      Our household attempted to appeal our real estate taxes through the county on our own and were denied.  We are savy internet users and provided plenty comps and also included houses nearby paying a lot less tax for much larger property that had been improved without a permit from the city.  Two subsequent times we went into the Township Assessors office to have them submit the appeal for us and both times our taxes have been lowered.

      The attempt to eliminate this service really feels like a tactic to try to keep our property taxes at the absurdly high levels that they are and endorses the continued rise in property tax which will just keep going up without diligent successful appeals. 

      It is becoming more and more difficult to remain a homeowner in Evanston.

      1. Tax reductions

        It's worth mentioning that if one person gets a tax bill reduced through an appeal, everybody else's tax bill goes up to make up the difference so that the taxing bodies will receive the same total amount of revenue.

        The appeals process can eliminate (or exacerbate) inequities in individual assessments. It does nothing to change the amount of money local governments spend.

        — Bill

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