The Township of Evanston has a “handsome” cash balance, Township Clerk Mary Morris announced at the annual meeting of the Township of Evanston, held on April 8. Sitting as trustees of Evanston Township, which is coterminous with the City of Evanston, the nine aldermen heard the reports of Township Supervisor Patricia Vance and Township Assessor Sharon Eckersall.

Supervisor’s Report

As township supervisor, Ms. Vance oversees the general assistance fund and the town fund, both of which are funded through property tax revenues. Salaries for both the assessor’s and the supervisor’s offices are paid from the town fund.

General assistance helps provide the basic requirements for living, including medical care and supplies, Ms. Vance said. General Assistance clients are very poor people who are not receiving or who do not qualify for other public benefits.

This year there were 873 clients, or an average of about 73 per month, she said; of these, 22 were employed. The average monthly support is $359 – $184 for living and $175 for rent, Ms. Vance said.

In addition, under contract with the City, the Township provides emergency services in the form of vouchers for food, as well as payment to the vendor for delinquent rent and utilities, Ms. Vance said. “This year, we are also addressing [the problem of] those who might be in danger of losing their condominiums from foreclosure,” she said.

Community outreach is another item in the town fund, and this year an additional $10,000 is budgeted to help the youth of Evanston, with $5,000 allocated toward the youth summit planned for May and $5,000 toward the Mayor’s summer youth employment program. “If we train our youth now, we can help to possibly decrease the chances they will become clients of the general assistance office,” Ms. Vance said.

For the fiscal year just ended, total Township expenditures were about $1.8 million: approximately $170,000 in the town fund and $1,010,000 in the general assistance fund. The Township has a cash balance of about $1.1 million, said Ms. Vance, which will “allow for unanticipated delay in tax remittance or unanticipated expenditures. The law does not allow Township general assistance [offices] to deny anyone assistance because we do not have the money.”

“The Township is the government of the people,” said Ms. Vance. “Township government is all of us. … Let us continue to strive to make Township government responsive to the needs of our most needy citizens.”

Assessor’s Report

Township Assessor Ms. Eckersall, whose office oversees property-tax appeals, said the office handled 350 appeals this year. A combination of declining property values and what Ms. Eckersall termed “inflated assessments” drove up the number of residents who wished to appear before the Cook County Board of Review to appeal their property tax bill. She said she advised homeowners “they need an appraisal to challenge the assessed value to the Board of Review.”

Ms. Eckersall also said because the double-whammy of declining values and increasing assessments is statewide, assessors are expecting a “new equalizer [formula] in Illinois.”

The next annual Town meeting is scheduled for April 14, 2009.