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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. Why a Township Assessor anyway ?

    Can someone explain why we even need a Township Assessor when we already have a bloated County Assessor ?

    Sounds like make work.   Again why even a Township government when we have the City government [where the Web says the Aldermen serve] that itself needs drastic trimming and a backbone to pass the cuts already needed.

    When even [semi-]Socialist Britian is cutting—"Prime minister david cameron recently announced what amounted to 25% cuts across the board in government * " you would think Evanston and the State would realize that the budget and spending is serious business.

    Instead as George Will commented Evanston will probably "…hire a neighbor to dig a hole in his yard and fill it in and then the neigbor will hire him to dig a hole in his yard then fill it in, and claim two jobs were created."   All resulting [in Evanston] in pushing the money around to politicans and bureaucrats.

    *http://www.livedash.com/transcript/fareed_zakaria_gps/49/CNN/Sunday_July_11_2010/251660/   GPS Fareed Zakaria

  2. More Assessors?

    I have to agree with fellow commenter John F…  Why do we need more bloated and duplicated efforts?  However, I could support such a prospect if the new Assistant Assessor’s job was to re-evaluate Evanston properties in light of their diminished (re-adjusted) market value after the "bubble" burst.  Hmmm… if real estate values have shrunk approx. 22% (Nationally)… shouldn’t my assessed value too?  I know I’m dreaming! 

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

    1. No valuations or taxes decrease—they live in Pangloss world

      Brian Becharas said "…diminished (re-adjusted) market value after the "bubble" burst.  Hmmm… if real estate values have shrunk approx. 22% (Nationally)… shouldn’t my assessed value too?…"

      As is stated by the County and City when assessments are calculated, the change will not necessarily be reflected in the tax due.  It is all a game of does your assessment rise faster than your neighbor, people in the city [and possibly people in the county].  The city and county don’t adjust their budgets to reflect lower assessed valuations [though I’m sure they increase it when values rise since they look at that as ‘free money’]—no they expect the owners to bare all the problem instead of realizing they need to cut their budget.   They just adjust the ‘pie’.  Theoretically if everyone’s assessed valuation changed by the same percent, then no one’s actual taxes would rise [or more than anyone elses given the change in total revenue the city/county want].   However in reality the city/county probably figure [blindly since they don’t seem to read about the economy] that valuations are up so everyone must be richer, ergo they can raise the actual taxes they want for their bloated budgets [of course including salaries, favors for friends/contributors, "special deals", an on and on].

      Bottom line, heads they win, tales we lose.

       

       

       

  3. It’s time to eliminate the Township Assessor’s Office

    Once again, the city is going in the wrong direction.

    In a time of fiscal crisis, city government needs to trim not add to the budget. The Township Assessor’s Office is a duplicative service and is a perfect candidate for elimination

    I also can’t help to wonder why the City Council cut the budget while Eckersall, a Republican, was the Township Assessor but now wants to INCREASE the budget when the former head of the Evanston Democratic party is now in charge of the office. The entire Evanston City Council and mayor have received campaign donations from the Democratic party.

    So is the Council playing politics with the Township Assessor’s Office rather than making hard budgetary bipartisan decisions in trimming the budget. I say bipartisan with tongue in cheek since everyone on the Council and the mayor are Democrats (so much for Evanston diversity).

    Because folks, next year the Council will be faced with more budget constraints as even less tax revenue comes in.  

    The proposed increase to the Township Assessor’s Office may not seem like a lot, but it’s the politics and the spirit of the proposal that affects community confidence in our local government. Confidence in our government holds tremendous value. The City Council would be wise to tighten the city’s belt as it’s citizens are doing.

  4. Reactivate the Laid Off Worker?

    Why doesn’t the city rehire the last laid off worker with a pending wrongful terminination suit to assist the Assessor with her work?  Presumably, s/he is a qualified and experienced person, as s/he was previously employed in the Assessor’s Office.  If s/he is rehired, the basis of his or her termination suit would evaporate, saving the city $50K in legal fees, which could then go toward the salary of the rehire.  If s/he refused to be reactivated, again the basis of his or her wrongful termination suit would disappear, as s/he was offered a job and refused it.  To hire a separate inexperienced Deputy Assessor and continue to battle litigation with an experienced laid off worker seems pointless.  The two laid off workers, who have settled with the city, could be safely ignored in all of this.

    1. Township Office

      I guess if it were that easy, the laid off worker would have been rehired.  However, I believe there is a policy that once an employee files a lawsuit, they cannot be rehired.

      Also, I wish that Bill Smith would get his numbers correct.  Yes, the election was 72% but 72% of 10% of the voters does not speak highly of the election or the outcome.  It only shows that the "Demorcratic Machine" did their work to put "someone" in office.  There is no need to have added help except during the reassessment.  That only last 28 days.

      The new Assessor should have used the "free" resources like I did.  Why should the taxpayers pay for staff that is not necessary.  Our taxes are high enough.

      New Trier Township covers the areas of Kenilworth, Glencoe, Winnetka, Wilmette, parts of Glenview and parts of Northfield.  They have one full time person.

      When I was appointed to the position, I literally stepped into the office the next day.  I guess it depends on the person and the background the indvidual has when elected. Not everyone is qualified for every position in the world of politics.

  5. To your point,  the valuation

    To your point,  the valuation of my S. Evanston property is down 50% (from highs),  without a buyer in sight.  Their valuations are not based in reality.

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