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Evanston Weighs Abolishing Township Government

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Evanston Township High School

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EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — A move is afoot in Evanston to do away with the township form of government.

As WBBM Newrsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Evanston Township and the City of Evanston have exactly the same boundaries, but the township is part of Cook County government.

Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, a township trustee says taxpayers could save more than $500,000 per year of lawmakers eliminate the township system.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

The township government has a supervisor and an assessor, and also provides help for low-income residents.

Evanston city attorney Grant Farrar told the trustees it might not be easy to dissolve the township. He said the laws regarding townships are mired in conflicted Illinois state statutes. While the state constitution appears to give the power for a township to dissolve itself unilaterally, township code indicates that all the other townships in Cook County must also approve the move, the Tribune reported.

The last Illinois township to be dissolved was in downstate Williamson County in 1932, the Tribune reported.

Evanston city aldermen, acting in their capacity as Evanston Township trustees will discuss the matter again in a month, to determine whether the question should be put before voters.

In total, there are 30 townships in suburban Cook County. All but five – Evanston, Oak Park, River forest, Berwyn and Cicero – are composed of multiple suburbs and/or unincorporated areas.

There are also six townships that are contained within the city of Chicago, and parts of the city that extend into the suburban townships. But the Chicago city townships are only used in property assessments and recordkeeping, and have no separate government structures.

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