Evanston Township Ceases to Exist

Until May 1, taxpayers in Evanston supported two governments -- the city of Evanston and Evanston Township.

Evanston became a case study in government consolidation when voters decided in March that one Evanston government was enough and dissolved the township as a legal entity.

The Better Government Association examined the causes and effects of the Evanston Township dissolution. Illinois has by far the most government taxing bodies per capita of any state in the nation, and township governments have become prime targets for reformers who say they duplicate services of county and municipal governments at great cost to taxpayers. Townships also are notorious havens for patronage hiring.

Voters in Evanston decided in March to consolidate the 157-year-old township into the city government to save taxpayer money.

It marked only the fourth time in Illinois history, and the first time since 1932, that voters decided to dissolve a township.

But Evanston taxpayers might not have been given the chance to vote were it not for the efforts of the Evanston City Council and a local state lawmaker, who teamed to battle the powerful political influence of township officials both locally and across the state.

It was an arduous process that required two voter referendums, passage of narrowly focused legislation in Springfield, and the blessing of both local lawmakers and the powerful leaders of the General Assembly.

Read the rest of the BGA's take on this government consolidation on Reboot Illinois.

The vote to eliminate the Evanston Township was a show of democracy in action in Illinois. David Melton, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said he wants to make campaign funding more democratic:

Public opinion research shows that most Americans believe there is a serious problem with money in elections. But they're cynical about the chances of cleansing politics of big money. And with the current U.S. Supreme Court majority equating campaign contributions with free speech, efforts to reduce the impact of big money by simply trying to impose caps on big donations aren't likely to succeed anyway (at least not in the absence of a constitutional amendment, which is not likely to happen anytime soon).


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