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The City of Evanston scored the highest of five Evanston-area governments in the latest leg of the Illinois Policy Institute’s “Local Transparency Project,” which grades governments on the availability of the following information: elected and administrative officials; public meetings; how to file a Freedom of Information Act request; budgets; expenditures; salaries and benefits; lobbying; and taxing levels.
The City earned a score of 91.7 out of 100 possible points for making information about taxes, Freedom of Information Act requests, contracts and other community matters readily available on the city’s website, said the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) in a prepared statement. Meanwhile, Evanston Township earned a record low score of 3.125 for making available almost no information about how it spends $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars, said IPI.
“The City of Evanston has recorded the second highest transparency score ever,” said Brian Costin, director of outreach at IPI. “But in Evanston Township … that is the absolute worst we’ve ever graded out of the nearly 100 local government entities we’ve graded in Illinois so far.”
Evanston-Skokie School District 65, Oakton Community College, and Evanston Township High School District 202 were also included in the audit.
IPI said government bodies are graded after local residents initiate the audit, and then are informed of their scores. After the first audit, governments have two months to improve their scores by following good government guidelines from the Institute. The agencies are then graded for a second time.
Local government officials said the audit provides a good rubric for what information should be publicly available.
City of Evanston: 91.7
Evanston-Skokie School District 65: 87
Oakton Community College: 82
Evanston Township High School District 202: 77.8
Evanston Township: 3.1