Open House

Join us as we host the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce “After Hours” and take a walk through the newly expanded and renovated Township office and garage spaces.

Tuesday, August 12
5:00PM – 7:00PM

DeKalb Township Offices
2323 S. Fourth Street
DeKalb, Illinois

Beverages and light hors d’oeuvres will be served
Please RSVP to ejohnson@dekalbtownship.org

Sunshine Week – Daily Chronicle

http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2014/03/18/sunshine-week-audit-rates-local-governing-bodies-websites/a88yvc/
Published 03/22/14 by ANDREA AZZO – aazzo@shawmedia.com

DeKALB – DeKalb residents can find plenty of information on the city’s website, including budgets, financial audits and individual expenditures from the past five years.

Mayor John Rey said this is an area the city has been complimented, and a nonprofit research organization has taken note.

The Illinois Policy Institute gave DeKalb’s website a score of 56 out of 100 in October 2012, but noted city leaders had improved publishing information for finances since then. More recently, DeKalb’s website scored 88.8.

“It’s important for citizens in any community to be able to understand where their tax dollars are being used and to have ready access to that type of financial information,” Rey said.

The policy institute, a conservative nonprofit public policy research organization, uses a 10-point checklist to audit the websites of governments in Illinois. The group audited 12 local governments at the Daily Chronicle’s request in honor of Sunshine Week. At least one smaller municipality questioned whether the group’s priorities applied there, but several other local leaders took the suggests to heart.

Sunshine Week, which concludes today, is a national initiative to highlight the importance of governmental transparency.

The policy institute is asking lawmakers to support the Local Government Transparency Act, which would make complying with the institute’s 10-point checklist the law for larger towns in Illinois, said Diana Rickert, director of media relations at the institute. Items on the checklist include whether websites include contact information, budgets, expenditures, contracts and lobbying details, with points possible for each year that information is posted.

Results also depend upon how easily the information can be found, which means that a government site can be marked down if the necessary information is buried on their site.

Results of the audits showed that government bodies that had never been audited – including Genoa, Sycamore, Cortland, Malta and some local school and park districts – all received fewer than 50 points out of 100; those that had been audited in the past received better scores.

Another audit will be performed Wednesday for those local governments that just received their first audit, so each government will be able to improve its score.

The city of DeKalb, which the institute has audited before, got the highest score with 88.8. The municipality that received the lowest score, with 10.9 out of 100, was the village of Malta.

Malta comptroller Debbie Lang said the results do not accurately describe the village’s website, which includes more information than larger municipalities in DeKalb County, she said. Areas such as lobbying and contracts are not always applicable to a small community like Malta, she said.

“We will take this ratings report into consideration and work to improve our score in the future where we can,” Lang said.

Ray Ochromowicz, DeKalb Park District interim executive director, welcomed the audit results even though the park district only scored 33.2 out of 100, slightly higher than Sycamore Park District’s score of 29.2 out of 100.

The DeKalb Park District is in the process of reviewing the score they received and changing its website accordingly, Ochromowicz said.

“I look at a complaint as a good thing,” he said. “Somebody is telling us how they could be more satisfied or better served. Getting audited is a good thing.”

Local school superintendents said they will also could tweak their websites in light of audit recommendations. Kathy Countryman, superintendent for Sycamore School District 427, said the district put a new website in place this year and that the audit will help improve the website even further.

District 427 received the lowest score of the three school districts audited with 29 out of 100. DeKalb School District 428 received 43.2 out of 100, and Genoa School District 424 earned 30.1 out of 100.

“We have been tweaking and looking at how [our website] has been servicing our public in regard to communication and transparency all year, so this comes at a good time for us,” Countryman said. “We can look at what areas were deemed we needed more information in and implement those as necessary.”

Joe Burgess, Genoa-Kingston School District 424 superintendent, said it seemed his district was penalized for not including historical data.

District 424 officials plan to update the website this summer and use the rubric to address areas with low scores. The district will try to make the website easier to navigate to find information, Burgess said.

“This didn’t come at a bad time. We’re always looking to improve,” he said. “There’s nothing glaring to me we can’t adjust. Hopefully we’ll do better next time.”

Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said the city will request a proposal to redesign its website after May 1, the end of the fiscal year, in order to make the website more navigable.

Sycamore’s website provides a variety of information, from contact information to economic development information, Gregory said.

“We try to put as much information out as we can,” he said.

The results

The Illinois Policy Institute audited the websites for 12 local governments by using their 10-point checklist.

DeKalb County 72.1

DeKalb 88.8

Sycamore 40.5

Genoa 17.0

Malta 10.9

Cortland 27.2

DeKalb Park District 33.2

Sycamore Park District 29.2

DeKalb Township 73.1

DeKalb School District 428 43.2

Sycamore School District 427 29.0

Genoa-Kingston School District 424 30.1

For more information

To view the full findings, visit http://shawurl.com/12hj.

What is scored

The Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-point checklist looks at whether municipalities have information on their websites regarding:

1. Contact information

2. Meetings

3. The Freedom of Information Act

4. Budgets

5. Audits

6. Expenses

7. Compensation

8. Contracts

9. Lobbying

10. Taxes

Local improvement

Illinois Policy Institute has audited the city of DeKalb, DeKalb Township and DeKalb County before. These were their scores:

DeKalb County: 60.9 in June 2013, 72.1 in March 2014, Improve 11.2

DeKalb Township: 70.9 in January 2013, 73.1 in March 2014, Improve 2.2

City of DeKalb: 56.0 in October 2012, 88.8 in March 2014, Improve 32.8

Daily Chronicle Guest Article

The following article appeared in the Daily-Chronicle on June 22,2013
http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2013/06/21/guest-view-dekalb-county-needs-township-government/a1b71g8/

Daily Chronicle Editor Eric Olson recently published an opinion that stated that township government is superfluous today, and that doing away with township government would result in saving the taxpayers money.

During my tenure as DeKalb Township supervisor, this is an opinion I have often heard. I have found that when presented with the role township government plays in Illinois, many are surprised at all we are charged with, and no longer agree with Olson.

Let me start by giving a brief overview of the operations for which the township is responsible: Illinois has 1,432 townships, all charged with three primary functions: administering general assistance, property tax assessments and road maintenance.

These duties are carried out by eight elected officials: supervisor, highway commissioner, assessor, clerk and four trustees, all elected at large from the township. The annual meeting also allows any resident to cast a vote for the business at hand rather than having an elected official do so on his behalf, making townships the last unit of pure democracy.

The trustees set general legislative policy for the township and approve budgets and expenditures. The supervisor is CEO and treasurer of all township funds, and also administers general assistance, providing food, shelter and emergency relief for people in need until they can support themselves.

The township highway commissioner is responsible for the construction and maintenance of all roads and bridges within the township road district. Township assessors are responsible for the appraisal of all taxable property within the township. Mass appraisal requires that the assessor perform three vital duties: list and value all new construction within the township; ensure that existing property is valued at the appropriate statutory level of market value; ensure that similar property is valued in a uniform manner.

Beyond these mandated services, many townships provide programs for vulnerable populations, including senior citizens, youth and the disabled. They also may provide health services, funding for nonprofit organizations and cemetery maintenance. This flexibility allows for each township to assess the needs of its community and offer the services needed with its borders. DeKalb Township, for example, funds more than a dozen social service organizations and created a committee on youth to assist organizations battling juvenile delinquency.

Because these services are chosen and paid for locally, citizens know their tax dollars are going to help their neighbors.

Illinois townships are responsible for 53 percent of the roads in Illinois; abolition of townships would require other governments to assume their maintenance.

For example, DeKalb County currently maintains 190 miles of road, whereas the 19 townships within it collectively maintain more than 800 miles. If townships were abolished, DeKalb County would become responsible for these 800 additional miles, undoubtedly increasing tax levies to cope. In fact, counties across the state would have to absorb the maintenance and cost of over 71,000 miles of additional roads.

So although the taxpayers would see a decrease in taxes supporting townships, they would see a disproportionate increase in taxes elsewhere because (according to a comparison of 2012 revenue streams between DeKalb County and all of DeKalb County’s townships) township roads cost approximately $6,500 a mile annually, while county roads cost taxpayers $29,500.

Another argument for the elimination of townships is redundancy. Some believe that townships duplicate services already provided by other units of government, thereby creating waste and inefficiency. If this were true, I’d agree that funding should be streamlined, given the painful fiscal state in which Illinois finds itself.

However, all units of local government have specific geographical areas of responsibility. For example, no two local units administer solid waste collection to the same customer, nor do they maintain the same streetlights or streets. Township elimination does not remove the need for property tax assessment, general assistance administration, or road maintenance; it just shifts the costs to another unit of government, an idea that has been proven to cost the taxpayers more, according to a recent study by Wendell Cox.

There are many additional reasons to support your local township, and I hope it is clear that their elimination wouldn’t be painless, as some suggest.  If taxpayers feel inefficiencies exist, they should vote for new leadership rather than look to eliminate the form of government altogether.

• Eric Johnson was appointed DeKalb Township supervisor in 2010 and was elected to a full term in April. He has his law degree and a degree in political science from NIU and resides in DeKalb with his wife, Jennifer, and 2-year-old son, Benjamin.

Press Release on COY Grant Applications

DeKalb, IL – The DeKalb Township Committee on Youth is currently accepting grant applications for organization providing programming or services that help battle juvenile delinquency within DeKalb Township. Up to $500 may be awarded to organizations who apply. Members of the Township Committee on Youth meet monthly to review and vote on applications. Applications are reviewed in the order they are submitted and there is no deadline to submit an application and will be reviewed at the meeting following its submission. Applications can be downloaded from the DeKalb Township website (www.dekalbtownship.org) and are found under the “Town Board” tab.

By law Illinois Townships are allowed to establish committees on youth that may provide programs to combat and prevent juvenile delinquency. Members of the committee are appointed by the Township Supervisor and approved by the Township Board. A township committee on youth must be composed of not less than five members who serve three year staggered terms. Committee members are not paid for their service on the committee. With the approval of the township board the committee may cooperate with any other local government entity, organization, agency, or persons in the fostering, development, and provision of local programs designed to prevent juvenile delinquency and to meet the needs of local youths.

After meeting with Supervisors from other townships in Illinois Eric Johnson wanted DeKalb Township to join the list of townships that have a committee on youth. DeKalb Township is considered a large township and has approximately 47,000 residents.

At its April 2012 meeting the DeKalb Township Board established the DeKalb Township Committee on Youth. The mission statement of the DeKalb Township Committee on Youth is to advise the Township Board on the provision of programs and services to combat and prevent juvenile delinquency and provide for the well-being of underserved and underprivileged youth and their families who reside in DeKalb Township through partnerships, or the creation or funding of youth activities.

Since that time the committee members have been selected and approved by the Township Board. Tim Vincent, principal at Clinton Rosette Middle School, was chosen to be the committee’s chair. Eric Johnson said “Tim Vincent and the rest of the committee have done a great job in developing a grant process that will help kids in our community. I am thankfully to him and all the committee members for the time they have committed to this project.”

Johnson said “one aspect of the committee on youth is designed to get underprivileged children into youth programing that might not otherwise be available without the extra financial assistance we can provide.” Prior to becoming Township Supervisor  Johnson served as a law clerk for the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office where he was assigned to a juvenile courtroom. “We know that children participating in structured programs such as sports, clubs, or afterschool programs are less likely to get into trouble, ” Johnson added “I got to see first-hand what happens to children who end up in our court system and anything we can do at the township to prevent juvenile delinquency is a good thing” said Johnson.

For questions about the grant application process contact Supervisor Eric Johnson at 815-758-8282.

 

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TOI Scholarship Application

DeKalb Township Announces Scholarship Opportunity

DeKalb, IL – The DeKalb Township Supervisor’s office is distributing applications for the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) annual scholarship. This year TOI will award seven (7) $1500.00 scholarships to graduating high school seniors. TOI has been awarding the scholarships since 1989 and during that time has granted $246,000 in aid to 145 students.

Township Supervisor Eric Johnson said “These scholarships are a great way for someone starting college in the fall to get some early financial aid and to defer the cost of getting a college degree.”  “To my knowledge no student from the DeKalb area has ever been a recipient of the award and it is my hope that changes this year” added Johnson.

Applications can be downloaded from www.dekalbtownship.org and are located under the “Supervisor” tab. Supervisor Johnson has been working with DeKalb High School and the Regional Office of Education to get the word out about this opportunity and is willing to meet with any interested student to help them fulfill the interview requirement of the application. The application mush be completed by March 1, 2013 for it to be considered and students will be notified after April 1, 2013 if they are a recipient.

Questions about the scholarship application can be directed to Eric Johnson, Township Supervisor, at 815-758-8282 or by email ejohnson@dekalbtownship.org.

To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Must be a graduating Illinois high school senior with a minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Illinois, and plan to attend a school in Illinois.
  • Must have a history of extracurricular activities that demonstrates a willingness to accept leadership responsibilities (student government, club officer, etc.) or a commitment to civic responsibility, social consciousness and a willingness to serve the community (community service projects, volunteer activities with local service agencies or charitable institutions, etc.)
  • Must submit a 500-word essay on The Role of Township Government in Today’s Society and in the Future that will include information gained from an interview with a township official.
  • Must submit two letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, local officials or business people.
  • Must submit an official high school transcript.
  • Must submit a cover letter and completed application form.

 

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Transportation Money

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently announced the distribution of $100 million in capital funding for local transportation projects for FY13. These funds are part of the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital program and represent the third $100 million installment of a $500 million allotment for local governments.

Local governments receive a portion of the $100 million in funding based on the motor fuel tax formula. Projects can include street and bridge maintenance as well as other projects including traffic signal upgrades, sidewalk replacement, storm sewers and bike paths. A complete list is available at www.dot.il.gov/fy2013/ to determine the amount received by your unit of local government. The web page shows the amount received by the selected county. Information can then be broken down by municipality, road district or township.

DeKalb Township to restore headstones

Daily Chronicle – By DAVID THOMAS – dthomas@shawmedia.com
Created: Saturday, August 18, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Efforts to preserve local history at two cemeteries began earlier this week.

Helen Wildermuth and workers from her company – Stonehugger Cemetery Restoration, based in Nashville, Ind. – will restore as many headstones in Evergreen Cemetery as the DeKalb Township’s budget allows.

Once Evergreen Cemetery is complete, restoration of headstones at the much-larger Oakwood Cemetery will begin. Wildermuth estimated it would be about three years before her team begins work there.

Township supervisor Eric Johnson said Wildermuth’s company will receive $15,000 this year for restoration efforts. Wildermuth said this will allow her to restore 45 headstones at Evergreen Cemetery.

Over the next several years, the township will pay $50,000 to $60,000 to restore the remaining headstones at Evergreen Cemetery, and just more than $100,000 for Oakwood Cemetery, Johnson said.

Wildermuth said her work was born out of her passion for genealogy, but the cemeteries where her family was buried were too run down, and for a while, Wildermuth thought that was the norm until she went to a workshop.

“I finally realized that I could do something about these,” Wildermuth said. “It’s kind of become a passion of mine … I hate seeing a stone lie flat on the ground. To me, it’s disrespectful of the person that was buried there.”

The restoration efforts involve Wildermuth and her team going through the cemetery and digging up sunken headstones.

The team cleans the headstones and restores them to their rightful place. If the headstone is too deteriorated, Wildermuth said she will discuss getting a replacement with the township.

Wildermuth said headstone restoration is a long process, and that restoring the cemetery could take a few years, depending on funding.

Johnson estimated there are 300 to 350 headstones at Evergreen Cemetery, and around 1,000 at Oakwood Cemetery.

Johnson said Evergreen Cemetery, which dates to the 1850s, was chosen because of its size and level of deterioration.

Since the township took over the two cemeteries in the 1990s, no upkeep except basic groundskeeping has been done on them, Johnson said. He met Wildermuth at a conference, and she came out to review the conditions at Evergreen Cemetery.

“We decided it was best to start with Evergreen and get this project started if we were going to preserve what was still out there,” Johnson said.

Appointment

DeKalb Township Supervisor Eric Johnson was reappointed by the County Board to the DeKalb Township General Assistance Appeal Board. The appeal board hears appeals from people who think they have been wrongly denied general assistance from one of the townships in the county. The appointment expires June 30, 2015.

The Official Website of DeKalb Township – In DeKalb County, Illinois