Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston hosts informational meeting to discuss primary ballot initiatives

The City of Evanston hosted a public informational meeting Thursday to discuss two ballot items for the March 20 primary election at the Robert Crown Center, 1701 Main St.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, sustainable programs coordinator Catherine Hurley and intergovernmental affairs coordinator Matt Swentkofske spoke at the meeting about a proposed advisory referendum to dissolve Evanston Township and a binding referendum about community choice electrical aggregation.

Eight people attended the meeting, but Bobkiewicz told The Daily attendance has reached 50 to 100 people at other public informational and ward meetings about the ballot initiatives.

“We just want the public to have sufficient access to information,” Bobkiewicz said.

The ballot item questions will be “Should the Evanston Town Board continue to pursue the issue of dissolving Evanston Township?” and “Shall the City of Evanston have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such a program?”

The proposed electricity aggregation referendum would work to provide savings on electric bills for Evanston residents and small businesses. The binding referendum would allow residents to seek an electricity company of their choice, choosing from 21 options, Hurley said in the meeting.

If voters pass the referendum, the city would be able to negotiate for a reduced rate lower than what Commonwealth Edison, the current energy supplier, provides.

ComEd would still provide the bills and customer service for the consumers, Hurley said. In this scenario, Evanston’s government would assume ComEd’s role as price negotiator, separating the generation of the energy from its delivery.

Nineteen communities in Illinois implemented electricity aggregation in 2011, and 75 communities in Cook County have placed the community choice aggregation referendum on the March 20 ballot, according to Hurley’s presentation.

“I want to know if this really is going to save us money,” said Klara Comess, an Evanston resident of 50 years. “You’re affected by these politics.”

The advisory referendum for township dissolution was placed on the ballot following discussion from the Township Board of Trustees and the public about the topic over the summer and the fall of 2011.

Currently, the township provides general assistance to about 93 residents and aids Evanston residents with tax services. Because the township and the city share the same borders, some say dissolving the township would yield cost savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If the advisory referendum is passed, the next step would involve township trustees pushing to pass a bill that would allow the city to pursue a binding referendum. The referendum, if passed, would allow the public to formally dissolve the township.

The bill was introduced Feb. 1 by state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and would clarify how Evanston could dissolve the township.

At a meeting Wednesday, Evanston residents voted to send a letter of objection to Cook County and Evanston Township electoral boards on the advisory referendum amid concerns of the referendum’s legality.

The next public informational meeting will be 7 p.m. on March 8 at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St.

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Evanston hosts informational meeting to discuss primary ballot initiatives