Township government supporters like to say that townships are the one unit of government that is closest to the people.
On Tuesday evening, the people will have the chance to get up close and personal with their townships.
What are called “annual town meetings” will take place, starting by law at 6 p.m. or later on the second Tuesday of April in township halls across the Sauk Valley.
It’s an excellent opportunity for people to find out what’s going on with that up-close-and-personal government of theirs. Financial reports will be reviewed, and elected officials will give their reports. Those who attend also get a chance to vote on various measures and to buttonhole their elected officials to ask questions.
Townships exist to maintain roads and bridges, assess property, and provide general assistance to the poor. Some townships have expanded those roles.
The problem is, much of their activity occurs with little public scrutiny, as SVM readers learned last year in the series “Under the Radar: Many Townships, Little Scrutiny.”
So, how about attending your township’s annual meeting Tuesday to provide a little more scrutiny? (After all, it’s your tax dollars that townships spend.)
In Coloma Township, Rock Falls area residents should attend to find out whether township officials have straightened out their financial record-keeping problems.
Dixon Township residents should attend to see how their new supervisor, Edward Fritts, whom they elected a year ago, is doing.
Sterling Township residents likewise will want to find out how their new highway commissioner, Dana Stutzke, whom they elected a year ago, is working out.
And the list goes on.
We checked with PublicNoticeIllinois.com, which is operated by the Illinois Press Association. A review of township public notices that appeared in area newspapers provides these starting times for township annual meetings on Tuesday:
6 p.m. – Dixon, Portland, Erie, York, Marion
7 p.m. – Coloma, Sterling, Palmyra, Hopkins, Garden Plain, Newton, Fairhaven, Savanna, Rock Creek-Lima, Mount Carroll, Nelson, May, Sublette, Pine Rock, Oregon/Nashua, Buffalo, Freedom
7:30 p.m. – Jordan, Pine Creek
8 p.m. – Hume, Hahnaman
If your township isn’t listed, give its office a call for the exact meeting time.
The invitation has been extended. On Tuesday, go ahead and cozy up to your township.