An Open Letter from the New Trier Township Supervisor

The following letter to the editor was run in the Monday, March 25 issue of in response to a reader poll Patch offered which was titled, "Poll: Should Township Government Be Eliminated?"

In response to the poll being conducted by Patch on whether township governments should be eliminated, I’d like to provide readers a thorough understanding of the service New Trier Township delivers to this community so they have both sides of the story before voting. Critics claim that because Illinois Township government was founded over 160 years ago for the purpose of acting as a buffer between rural, unincorporated areas and often-distant county seats and even more distant state and federal agencies that Townships are no longer necessary since that situation no longer exists. However, that argument totally ignores the way Township governments have evolved to become entities who fill the gap where state and local governments cannot provide leadership, advocacy and resources to meet the physical, mental and social service needs of residents.

Many residents are not aware of the breadth of service provided by Township government, that is, until they need us. Your Township operates a Food Pantry, of which many residents are unaware thanks to their good fortune. However, there are residents in need in this community, and New Trier Township served 1,888 visitors to the Food Pantry in fiscal year 2012-13. That number represents 1,032 households made up of 2,522 persons. You may be surprised to learn just how many New Trier Township residents take advantage of the Food Pantry.
You may also be surprised to learn that the Township assisted 500 students to purchase school supplies during this fiscal year. 174 of our residents received financial assistance for shelter, utilities and medical needs thanks to the Township this year, as well. 97 families were given financial aid for child care expenses and 102 individuals were supported through the Community Support Grants program. In addition 12,034 cab fares were subsidized for elderly and disabled riders in need of transportation assistance. 138 residents received escorted rides to medical appointments. In addition, 92 holiday food bags and 158 holiday dinners were distributed and 44 seniors received assistance gifts during holiday times. All of these programs represent your tax dollars at work to support neighbors in the New Trier Township community—people who need help to make ends meet during tough times, who live with the challenges of disability, or who need assistance due to aging.
The work of the Township stretches well beyond assisting residents’ need through providing financial support and food/household products. The Township partners with social service organizations to refer residents who find themselves in need of support but may not know where to turn. The Township funds these agencies to enable them to operate in service of our residents, and a great number of your neighbors take advantage of services provided by places like Career Resource Center, Erika’s Lighthouse, Family Service Centers, Josselyn, Meals at Home and National Association of Mental Illness to name just a few of the 33 agencies supported through the Township.
In addition to offering financial and caring support , the Township operates the Peer Jury, a system praised by local law enforcement officials for providing juvenile offenders with an alternative to Juvenile Court and a criminal record. The Township provides voter services through the Clerk’s Office. Anyone who has ever appealed their property taxes knows the value of the expertise and guidance offered by the Assessor’s Office.
If you still don’t feel you have a grasp on the breadth of service provided by your Township government, we invite you to attend our upcoming Annual Town Meeting to see the work we do for yourself. You will witness the engagement of many of your neighbors who actively participate on our committees to steward your tax dollars as we fund the services mentioned above, a job we take very seriously. You will also witness the numerous volunteers who regularly contribute their time and support to assist the Township in delivering on our mission of serving the residents of this community. I strongly encourage you to join us at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16 at the Community Recreation Center in Wilmette. I believe you would truly be surprised by the breadth of service delivered by a small staff and a few dedicated officials. Townships serve people, and we invite all residents to see your township in action, get involved and experience for yourself the value of your township government.
Respectfully submitted,
Pat Cantor

739 Elm Street, Winnetka, Illinois 60093 P. (847) 446-8202 F. (847) 446-1743
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