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At the March 7 Human Services Committee meeting, Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover continued to press for details about Evanston Township expenses. The City’s aldermen also serve as trustees of the Township, and as such, they approve the tax levy and the budget for the Township. The annual Township meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. on April 12 at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.
The Human Services Committee is looking at Township expenses, said Ald. Grover, to see whether administrative expenses are proportionate to direct services rendered to clients. The Township budget for the present fiscal year is $1.2 million. Five full-time and seven part-time employees provide services to roughly 90 General Assistance clients and help residents with their property-tax appeals.
At the February Human Services Committee, aldermen asked Rosemary Jean-Paul, Township director, to bring to the March meeting figures that would show the breakdown between expenses for administrative services and those for direct client services.
Report on Expenditures
At the March 7 meeting, Ms. Jean-Paul said that she spends about 75 percent of her time on administrative duties and 25 percent on client services. Administrative assistants, she said, spend about half their time on each type of duty.
Ald. Grover asked whether Ms. Jean-Paul based her information upon bills or other hard data, and Ms. Jean-Paul indicated that she did not. “And the information is not based on talking to staff people?” Ald. Grover asked. Again, the answer was no.
“So, [this information is] based upon a good guess as to how [Township employees] spend their time?” said the alderman.
“Yes,” Ms. Jean-Paul responded. “It is not based on billing records and the like?” Ald. Grover continued.
Ms. Jean-Paul said Ald. Grover was correct.
Nothing appeared to be resolved from the conversation, but the committee is likely to continue discussions about Township expenditures before deliberations on the Township budget begin.
The next Human Services Committee is scheduled for April 6. City Council has two scheduled meetings before the annual Town meeting.
Suggestions to Eliminate Township Government Could Be RevisitedEvanston Township is coterminous with the City of Evanston. It has two main functions: providing help to residents who wish to appeal their property tax bills and offering social services, job training and support to General Assistance clients and some emergency services to Evanston residents.
In recent years the Township has also helped fund community purchased services – that is, subsidized social services – for Evanston residents from local agencies.
Both the Township supervisor, at present Patricia Vance, and the Township assessor, presently Bonnie Wilson, are elected, part-time positions. The Township office is at 846 Dodge Ave.
City Council members have for several years been working to eliminate duplicated support services offered by the City and the Township. During budget proceedings for the past two years, residents have suggested relocating Township offices to the Civic Center as a cost saving to taxpayers.
Eliminating the Township altogether has also been suggested. Some Township services, such as General Assistance, might have to be offered, but it is possible that the City of Evanston could assume them in some form, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin told the RoundTable.
Mr. Suffredin said that eliminating Evanston Township government altogether would require a countywide referendum.
The form of such a referendum, he said, would be an affirmatively framed question such as “”Shall Evanston Township government be continued?”” He added that he felt coterminous townships “”should be studied. … If there is a place to study the elimination of coterminous townships, it would be Evanston.””