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Vote due on doubling township assessor’s budget

Evanston aldermen tonight are again scheduled to vote on a new budget for Evanston Township which calls for nearly doubling the budget of the township assessor’s office.

The new assessor, Bonnie Wilson, who won 72 percent of the vote against former assessor Sharon Eckersall last year, claims she needs to hire a new full time deputy assessor to help handle appeals during the upcoming reassessment of Evanston properties.

That would raise spending for the office from an estimated actual spending of $83,592 last year to $168,054 this year.

In addition, City Attorney Grant Farrar says he expects the township to run up as much as $50,000 in legal fees this year resulting from continuing litigation over Erckersall’s termination of a deputy after the aldermen trimmed her budget.

At their last meeting, aldermen were unable to reach agreement on the township budget for the fiscal year that began last April and instead approved stop-gap funding at last year’s level through the end of this month.

Most aldermen supported Wilson, the former head of the Democratic Party of Evanston, in her race against Eckersall, who now is running as a Republican candidate for county assessor.

The aldermen had expressed outrage over the legal costs they were forced to pay after three employees Eckersall dismissed filed wrongful termination suits. The first two of those suits have now been resolved.

The township operates under two budget accounts. The town fund, which includes spending for the assessor’s office, is scheduled to increase its budget from $519,000 last year to $669,000 this year.

The general assistance fund budget calls for spending $1.23 million — that’s up $138,000 from the previous year’s budget and up $277,000 from the actual spending last year.

The township spent less than it budgeted last year on direct payments to aid recipients and on medical costs, while spending about its budgeted amounts on payroll and overhead.

The township this year plans to continue to draw down its reserves toy increase spending on third-party social service programs that were previously funded by the city.

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