The City of Evanston is dipping its toes into the referendum waters by considering questions with serious consequences for Evanston residents.

The City will ask residents to voice their opinion about the possibility of abolishing the Township of Evanston, and its government, with certain functions to be absorbed by the City of Evanston. Strangely, the City has decided to make this an advisory referendum, a luxury that is generally not afforded to governing bodies. That is, the City will ask residents’ opinion but will not be bound by it. In most cases, governing bodies sponsor mandatory referenda, ones that bind the governing body to the will expressed by the taxpayers in their vote on the referendum question.

Another question posed by the City will be whether to vote for “community aggregation” of electricity – that is, whether the residents of Evanston would like to purchase power from the lowest bidder for their patronage rather than relying simply on the present sole source, Commonwealth Edison.

These are serious matters, ones that deserve careful consideration by the taxpayers. The issue of Township dissolution presents a thorny question. Residents could overall see some savings on their property tax bills should this measure be approved and be implemented wisely. In government parlance, however, “savings to the taxpayers” means reductions or eliminations of programs, services and positions.

Over the next three months these questions will be debated among friends and families, clubs, church groups, book groups and others, which is as it should be. Questions like these, which have already cost serious time and deliberation, merit time and deliberation among those who will respond to those questions and ultimately pay for the answers and, it is hoped, benefit from them.