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Advocates of abolishing the Evanston Township received an endorsement from Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin at City Council’s Sept. 7 Rules Committee meeting, when Mr. Suffredin, an Evanston resident, told the Committee that he saw no reason the township should continue.
Mr. Suffredin, appearing before the committee to deliver a legislative update, responded to a question from Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, who asked “what your thinking was” about the township. “I actually see no reason for township government in a coterminous [having the same borders] city,” said Mr. Suffredin.
Many traditional functions of a township, such as maintaining roads, simply are not applicable in a coterminous situation. The City handles those functions. Other traditional functions “may be better run through municipal government,” he said. Because aldermen know their wards well, distribution of general assistance for the poor is an example Mr. Suffredin cited.
Reporting building permits to the County Assessor’s office so that property values can be adjusted appropriately is something the City’s building department could handle easily since they issue the permits anyway, he said. His office already provides assistance with property tax appeals, another service provided by the township assessor’s office.
Mr. Suffredin said that by doing away with an additional layer of government the City could realize some significant savings. Illinois has more layers of government than any other state he added.
Mr. Suffredin praised current Township Supervisor Pat Vance, saying she does a “very good job.” He also said he supported the election of Township Assessor Bonnie Wilson. “But in a coterminous situation, I think we can do better,” he said. He encouraged the Council to investigate initiating a referendum that would abolish the Township.
Ald. Grover reiterated a request to the legal department to report on the legal procedure for eliminating Evanston Township. A report is expected within two or three weeks.
Even if the Township is not abolished, it may be moving. Later in the evening, the Human Services Committee discussed relocating the Township offices from their Dodge Avenue location back to the Civic Center.
County MoneyCook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin reported on the state of property tax distribution, the County’s budget and possible help with Evanston capital projects prior to addressing the Township.
He said the Cook County budget was actually in pretty good shape, in large part because “”we have never missed a pension payment.”” As a result, despite County Commission President Toni Preckwinkle’s public statement of a $350 million shortfall, the County actually has “”some surpluses.””
Mr. Suffredin said one way the surpluses could get back to Evanston would be through the building department. He cited several projects in Chicago, such as a Rogers Park fire station, that had been funded through the County. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl asked which buildings the County would like to fund, mentioning Robert Crown specifically. Mr. Suffredin agreed to discuss the matter further.
Property taxes are collected at the county level and remitted to municipalities, accomplished this year without the significant delays experienced last year. Finally, Commissioner Suffredin said the City’s efforts to secure a Federally Qualified Health Clinic was “”clearly the way to go,”” and would tie in with the area’s public health network. “”We have three FQHCs in Rogers Park, and they have made a real difference,”” he said.