Scheduled For Illinois: A Quiet Evening Of Annual Town Meetings

Cunningham Township building, Urbana IL

The Cunningham Township government offices in Urbana. The township's annual town meeting will be held elsewhere, at the Urbana City Building.

Travis Stansel/Illinois Public Media

The evening of the second Tuesday in April -- April 9 in 2019 -- is when townships in Illinois hold their annual town meetings.

The meetings are required by state law, although additional town meetings are permitted. Unlike meetings of township boards, town meetings are when registered voters can participate directly in their township’s government. The participation is mostly theoretical, since agendas are typically sparse.

Townships in New England are known for attracting dozens or even hundreds of voters to their annual town meetings. Town meetings in Illinois once drew similar numbers, and In the past, townships sometimes used the meetings as a time to elect their local officials.

But today in Illinois, annual town meetings are largely a formality. For instance, the main item on the agenda in two Champaign County townships (Pesotum and City of Champaign) is the presentation of the township supervisor’s annual financial statement. Voters at the Ludlow Township annual meeting can discuss the possible sale and purchase of Road District and Cemetery Equipment.

Voters at annual town meetings were once able to approve last-minute additions to the agenda. But the Illinois General Assembly passed a law several years ago ending the practice. 

85 of Illinois’ 102 counties are divided into townships, and township supervisors once served on county boards, until a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ended the practice.

Townships have been eliminated in Chicago and Evanston in Cook County, and Belleville in St. Clair County. A bill making it easier for voters in McHenry County to dissolve their township governments passed the Illinois House earlier this month and now heads to the Senate. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed an earlier version of the bill, saying he wanted a statewide version.

Annual town meetings are usually held around 6 P.M. or 7 P.M. Most are held at the main township government building. However, the townships that cover the cities of Champaign and Urbana will hold their meetings tonight at their respective city council chambers.

Some of the annual town meetings scheduled for April 9, 2019:

Champaign County

Cunningham Township (contiguous with Urbana) 6 PM, City Council Chambers, Urbana City Bldg., Urbana.

City of Champaign Township (contiguous with the city of Champaign) 7 PM, City Council Chambers, Champaign City Bldg, Champaign.

Urbana Township (area surrounding Urbana) 6 PM, 2312 E. Perkins Rd., Urbana.

Champaign Township (area surrounding Champaign) 6 PM, Town Hall, 3900 Kearns Dr., Champaign.

Condit Township: 6:20 PM, Condit Township Building.

Ludlow Township: 7 PM, Ludlow Township Office, 133 W. Thomas St., Ludlow.

Newcomb Township: 7 PM, Newcomb Township Hall, 355 Co. Rd. 2700 N., Mahomet.

Pesotum Township: 6:30 PM, Pesotum Road District Bldg.

St. Joseph Township: 6 PM, St. Joseph Township Bldg., 400 W. Sherman, St. Joseph.

Somer Township: 6:30 PM, Somer Township Building.

Macon County

Decatur Township:  6 PM, Township Office Bldg, Upper Level Community Room, 1620 S. Taylorville Rd., Decatur.

Story source: WILL