Can the City of Urbana absorb ALL the functions of Cunningham Township?
This is an issue that warrants robust public discussion. From my perspective, it is difficult for me to see how the City of Urbana could absorb and then carry out the functions of the Township, especially with regard to Social Services provided to needy individuals.
Township Supervisors have great latitude in how to carry out their duties and how to provide services with the funding they receive. Under the leadership of the current Township Supervisor, Danielle Chynoweth, the Township is now providing more services to more residents, including services to help prevent homelessness. The Township office is nimble and capable of responding to clients’ and the community’s needs in a way that city governments are not equipped to do. They always answer the phone, welcome walk-in appointments, and can provide support right away in emergency situations. Furthermore, if the Township is abolished, funding for these services may go away. The City is unlikely to increase funding for social services. In fact, when their budget got tight, funding for social services was one of the first categories of funding that got cut.
What the City Council could do to dismantle the Township:
Last year, at Governor Bruce Rauner’s urging, the Illinois General Assembly passed new legislation that makes it easier for local elected officials to abolish or consolidate township government in Illinois. The process for doing so would involve putting a referendum on the November ballot. The referendum would simply say something like: “Shall the Township of (name of township) cease?” And it would be a binding referendum.
The referendum language makes no provision, nor does it bind upon the City of Urbana, the requirement to assume all of the functions of the Township, such as the social services provided to individuals.
One argument against Townships is that these local offices are antiquated and they are a historical artifact that create inefficiencies without serving any real purpose. An alternative perspective – CCHCC’s perspective – is that Cunningham Township serves a vital and very local purpose, and it is certainly not duplicative or redundant. Abolishing Cunningham Township would take away important resources in our community, and this decision should not be made in the heat of the moment – heat created by an unrelated personnel issue.
Urbana residents: Please help by taking action TODAY!
(Not an Urbana resident? You can still weigh in, since homelessness and social service funding is a community-wide issue.)
The Cunningham Township Board (whose members are also all Urbana City Council members) is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Urbana City Building. You can help in two ways:
- Send a message to all Cunningham Township Board (and therefore Urbana City Council) members over e-mail, opposing the move to dissolve the Township by referendum; or
- Attend the Cunningham Township Board Meeting and speak during public participation.
Here are the resources to help you take these actions.
Agenda and meeting information for tonight’s meeting:
How to contact all Township Board/City Council Members through one e-mail address:
You can just send a message to one e-mail address, and it will reach all members: CityCouncil@UrbanaIllinois.us
For individual members’ contact information, you can see here:
And for the Mayor’s contact information, please see here:
“I am a resident of the City of Urbana and Cunningham Township. I am contacting you to urge you to move slowly and cautiously on any decision that would cause the Township to cease to exist. Our community deserves the right to learn more about the Township office and the important services provided to our community before a decision is made to place this question on the ballot for a binding referendum. Personnel issues with the Assessor’s office should not be a cause or a pretext to dismantle social services in our community. Thank you.”
Feel free to personalize your message.
Recent articles and editorials in The News-Gazette: