Illinois League of Women Voters of Champaign County.

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50 cents


Published as an aid to good citizenship by

The League of Women Voters of
Champaign County, lUlnois

A non-partisan organization

First Edition, August 1955
Price 50 cents

Printed by Mills Publications, Hoopeston, Illinois

-^l I-


This is a story of two towns, Cham-
paign and Urbana, Illinois, a factual ac-
count of how they are served, and how
they are g'overned.

Behind the panoramic view of these
towns is the story of men and women who
are aware of their responsibility as citizens
to these communities, who know that de-
mocracy depends upon the way each in-
dividual uses his power as a voter. The
League of Women Voters of Champaign
County compiled and edited this booklet
as a public service, in the hope that it
will help some citizens become better in-
formed about our governments — ^that they
will vote, and know what they are voting
for. We hope, too, that it will be interest-
ing as well as useful.

We are very grateful for the coopera-
tion given us by the officials of both cities,
by the superintendents of schools, by the
director of public relations of the Univers-
ity, by the officers of law enforcement
and protection, and by the heads of public
health and welfare agencies.

We are indebted to Mrs. Leslie D.
Johnston, chairman of the survey, and
Mrs. Joseph Ward Swain, chairman of the
editorial committee. To the many other
members of the League of Women Voters
who co-authored this survey, our heart-
felt thanks and appreciation. We know
they will feel their efforts justly rewarded
if this booklet is helpful in promoting the
interest of Champaign and Urbana citizens
in their towns.

Mrs. Ezra Levin, President,
League of Women Voters of Champaign
_^ County.

COVER — Mr. Raymond Slanker, art school,
University of Illinois.

CARTOONS— Mrs. Edward Dessen.

CHARTS— Prof. Thomas Page,
University of Illinois.

CITY MAPS— Mr. Hubert Goodell.

GRAPH— Mr. R. W. Bokenkamp,
Champaign Schools.


Champaign-Urbana Courier,
and News-Gazette.

SCHOOL DISTRICT MAPS— Superintendents,

Champaign and Urbana.


A Map of Champaign 6-7

B Map of Urbana 8-9

I The Two Towns

Early History 10

Today 12

II Local Government

Champaign 15

Urbana 17

III Courts 20

IV Public Health 23

V Welfare 27

VI Protection

Fire 29

Police 32

Jails 34

VII Streets and Public Utilities 35

VIII Education

Introduction 37

Champaign 38

Urbana 43

Libraries 46

University of Illinois 48

IX Recreation

Champaign 52

Urbana 53

General 55

X Housing 56

XI Voters' Service 60











Early History

The first of the "Fighting Illini" were the Kickapoo Indians who for
50 years, prior to 1819, inhabited this area, long before its forests were
cleared for what was to become one of the richest farm belts in the Middle
West. It is possible that an unusual display of comets and meteors per-
suaded them to sign a peace treaty at Fort Vincennes on July 30, 1819,
ceding the territory to the United States. Another treaty, this time
with the Potawatomi Indians who lived along the Kankakee river, was
signed after the War of 1832, making the region safe for settlement.

Because the rolling prairies reminded some of the early settlers of
their former homesteads in Champaign County, Ohio, it was decided to
name the county "Champaign." The county seat of the Ohio county was
called "Urbana," and that name too was transferred to the new village. In
1834, at the time of its incorporation, there were only 350 residents. Taxes
collected in that year totaled $61.61.


The first road was built in 1836 from Urbana to Bloomin^on. Soon
there were others, and news of the great fertility of the soil attracted
settlers by the hundred from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. This was a
period of great European emigration, also, and farmers from Germany, Po-
land, and other agricultural areas were added to those already here. Sup-
plies and merchandise were brought overland from Philadelphia and Cin-
cinnati. The earliest industrial activity was a grist mill, operated by ox and
mule power. Some men raised cattle and drove them on foot to the Chicago

In the early '50s, in an attempt to create commerce and to better rela-
tions between the North and the South, the Federal government granted
the Illinois Central Railroad every alternate square mile along its right-of-
way from Chicago to Cairo. The sale of this valuable land financed the
building of the railway. The logical route in this section would have been
through the county seat, but there was more unclaimed land to the west
of Urbana, and the company laid its tracks two miles away. It ran its
first train through in 1854. In 1860, "West Urbana" changed its name to
"Champaign," by a slim margin of 4 votes. It was another four years
before an east-west railway line was opened.

The first newspaper, "The Central Illinois Gazette," was published in
1853. A weekly, called "The Urbana Union," was founded at about the
same time. "The Cattle Bank" was opened in Champaign in 1857, and
others followed. There was a railway hotel, the "Doan House."

Urbana was becoming known as a legal center, where Abraham Lin-
coln tried some of his cases, and where both Lincoln and Stephen A. Doug-
las addressed large gatherings on the slavery issue.

Churches were among the earliest institutions to be set up. As early
as 1831 services were held by the United Brethren, and by the '50s most of
the Protestant churches were well established. The Catholics, too, had
churches in the area, and one of the early church weddings was held
at St. Mary's in 1858. The Sinai Congregation was organized after the
turn of the century.

The year 1858 saw the opening of "The Urbana Male and Female Sem-
inary," the first free public school ; and public libraries were in use in 1869
in Champaign, and 1874 in Urbana.

Gas lighting superseded kerosene in 1866, just in time to help the
students at the "Illinois Industrial University" — founded by the State Leg-
islature in 1868 — with their homework. Several sites had been suggested,
but eventually the cities of Champaign and Urbana were allowed to have
the University.


This modern University community of 70,000 is a far cry from the old
days, when only an occasional run-away mule team provided excitement
for the tobacco-chewing loafers as they changed position with the sun
along Main Street.


The cities of Champaign and Urbana, separated by the campus and
buildings of the University of Illinois, comprise a pleasant residential and
business area, equidistant from Chicago on the north, St. Louis on the
south, and Indianapolis on the east.

Champaign covers 4.7 square miles, and Urbana 3.2, but the numerous
small housing developments on the outskirts of each town are gradually
being included in the city limits.

The growth of population, which has been steady, is due largely to the
ever-increasing enrollment at the University of Illinois. The development
of industries has been rapid, and the Air Force Technical School at Chanute
Air Base, fourteen miles north of Urbana, brings hundreds of families
to the two cities. Urbana has grown from 8,000 population in 1910 to
over 25,000 in 1954, and Champaign's growth in the same period has been
from 12,000 to 43,000.

The University of Illinois is the largest
source of employment in both Champaign and
Urbana. Other sources of wealth are farming, in-
dustries, and the Air Force Technical School at
Chanute, for which Urbana and Champaign are
convenient shopping centers.

Industries located within or near the town
limits of Champaign manufacture products such
as academic apparel, alloy castings, bleachers, ce-
ment products, drop forgings, gloves, railroad reg-
isters, refrigeration and air conditioning equip-
ment, road machinery, and soybean oil.

Urbana manufactures athletic equipment and
supplies, knock-down bleachers, burial vaults,
butter and dairy products, castings, cigars, de-
horners, harness, ice cream, mausoleums, micro-
scopic lenses, paints, scientific instruments, and
X-ray apparatus.


During World War II and since the war, there has been a great increase
in wholesale and retail trade and in professional and service industries.

The construction of houses and of university buildings has given em-
ployment to many people.

The chief agencies for the distribution of news are three newspapers
and three radio stations. The one morning newspaper is a University of
Illinois student paper, published 5 days a week. One of the radio stations
is operated by the university.

In Champaign there are forty-seven churches of many denominations,
and in Urbana there are twenty-two. Many of them maintain Founda-
tions and social centers near the campus.

Ninety member groups cooperate through the Council of Social Agen-
cies, which serves as a clearing house for all benevolent and welfare organi-
zations in the community. It maintains a permanent office at 303 S. Wright
St. in Champaign, a building which also houses the Family Service,
Community Chest, and the Illinois Children's Home and Aid offices.

Each local Chamber of Commerce has a complete and up-to-date list of
the existing public interest, fraternal, and labor organizations.

















« Or^anizaiion vdrits,
adopted 1955




/ \








ChampaigTi at present has the commission form of .e:overnment. In
April, 1955, a chang'e to the Council-Manager form of government Was
approved by the voters. Under Illinois law, the new government must be
set up on or before May 1, 1959. It may be instituted by a council ordinance
at any time previous to that date.

Under council-manager government the voters elect a council. The
council employs a full-time, trained manager, whose duty it is to choose and
direct the heads of all branches of the city government. His recommenda-
tions to the council, if accepted, are passed into ordinance. He receives a
salary commensurate with his abilities and the size of the city. Council
members receive a nominal salary, but are not required to devote full time
to their duties.

Under commission government the state law provides that commission-
ers must spend six hours a day "in the conduct of city government." The
present city council consists of a mayor and four other commissioners,
elected every four years on a non-partisan, city-wide basis. The salary
of the mayor is $4000 a year, plus $900 as liquor control commissioner.
The other four commissioners receive $3500 a year (the limit under state
law for cities the size of Champaign) . As members of the board of local
improvements the mayor and the other commissioners each receive an
additional $100 a month. The council holds open meetings every Tuesday
at 10 A. M.

The mayor is commissioner for the department of public affairs (police
department, city attorney, city engineer). He makes appointments which
must be confirmed by the council. He has an equal vote in the council
but no veto. If he will not sign a bill, any two commissioners may sign it.
The finance commissioner has charge of the offices of the city clerk and
city treasurer. The public health and safety commissioner has charge of
the fire department, building construction, plumbing inspection, traffic
division (street signs), and garbage division (disposal grounds). The
public property commissioner has charge of the electrical department
(electrical inspector, city electricians), and the maintenance and care of
the city hall. The street commissioner has charge of public works, sewers,
and maintenance of streets. Another elected official is the police magis-
trate ($2500) who also collects fees for state and civil cases.


Appointed salaried officials are: city clerk, city treasurer, city attorn-
ey, city engineer, superintendent of building- construction, plumbing inspec-
tor, city electrician, and building inspector. The city engineer and the city
attorney, in addition to their salaries, are entitled by state law to a per-
centage on all new street improvement projects after these projects have
been approved by the state. This does not include projects financed by
bond issue or by the motor fuel tax.

The Park Board, which maintains the parks, consists of 3 members
elected every 2 years on party tickets, and employs a superintendent, two
maintenance men, and a park policeman at Hessel Park for six summer
months. It is a separate taxing body, and meetings are held as needed, with
an annual meeting in April.

In 1955 Champaign voted to reorganize the Park Board in conformity
with the State Park Board Act of 1952, under which Urbana already oper-
ates. This enlarges the Park Board and gives it authority to increase
the tax rate for parks. The new organization will go into operation in 1957.
Appointed non-salaried boards are the Police and Fire Commission, Traffic
Commission, Parking Commission, Election Commission, Planning Com-
mission, Zoning Appeal Board, Burnham Hospital Board, Public Library
Board, Recreation Board, Firemen's and Policemen's Pension Boards.

Others are the Housing Commission, Civil Defense, and the Board of
Appeals (new building code).

To procure the necessary money for running the city, the head of each
department makes an estimate for his budget for the year. The combined
estimates are prepared by the city clerk as an ordinance for appropriations
and passed into law by the city council. Then a levy ordinance is voted
requesting the county clerk to levy taxes for the required amount. When
passed, a copy of the ordinance is filed in Springfield with the State De-
partment of Revenue, and published in the local newspapers. The budget
is audited at the end of the year as provided for by state law.

The tax rate is set by voters at a referendum (a bill put to public vote).
The state law authorizes the levy of real estate and personal property
taxes, and sets maximum rates for different sized cities. The county
treasurer is county collector and collects from each township. Champaign
gets taxes from the two townships comprising the city limits. Township
assessors make assessments on personal property and turn these over to
the county collector who sends out bills.

Other state-authorized taxes are licenses for theaters, liquor stores,
and restaurants. The council must pass an ordinance putting each of these
into effect. A wheel tax in use in Champaign was voted out in 1955.
Income derived from parking meters is used for off-street parking facil-
ities. The State Motor Fuel Tax helps support street improvements.



Urbana's form of government is aldermanic. The mayor is elected on a
city-wide basis on a party ticket for a four-year term. His salary is
$3500-$2500 as mayor, $400 as liquor commissioner, and $600 as chairman
of the board of local improvements. The mayor is executive officer of
Urbana and chairman of the city council. He represents all citizens, and
votes only in case of a tie. He can veto the action of the council, but the
veto can be overridden by a two thirds vote of the aldermen. He appoints
city officers with confirmation of the aldermen.

There are 14 aldermen elected, 2 from each of the 7 wards set up by
population. The term is 4 years, and the salary $10 a meeting. The alder-
men meet twice a month on the first and third Mondays. They form com-
mittees to carry on the work of government: Finance, Streets and Alleys,
Fire and Water, Police and Traffic, Lights, Insurance, Health, Buildings
and Grounds, Ordinances and Petitions, Fees and Licenses, and Purchas-
ing and Printing.

Other elected officials are the city clerk (city collector of taxes, book-
keeper, and secretary to the council), whose salary is $3600 (full time) ;
the police magistrate — $1800 plus cost on state cases and fees for other
services (full time) ; and the city treasurer — $600 (part time) .

The city engineer, an appointed official, receives no salary, but is paid
a fee according to state law for pavement projects, which must be approved
by the state. This fee is on a percentage basis, with a minimum of 7.5
per cent for projects costing up to $25,000, decreasing to 4.5 per cent for
those above $750,000. From these fees the city engineer must pay his
assistant engineers and draftsmen, and all office and field expense except
rent and stenographic help. In 1955 he employed six assistants. Besides
the above fee, there is an inspection fee of 2.5 per cent on all projects.
When a city ordinance calls for the construction of sidewalks, the city
engineer receives 10 cents per lineal foot, or about half the aforesaid fee.
The city attorney (an appointed official who is also the corporation counsel
and who receives a salary) is entitled by state law to a flat fee of 3 Vs
per cent on the cost of all city improvements, except sidewalks and straight
Motor Fuel Tax or General Bond Issue projects.

Other appointed officials are the city electrician ; the commissioner of
public works, the plumbing inspector; the acting fire marshal and the
acting chief of police (called "acting" for Civil Service rating) ; the cus-
todian of the city building; the custodian of the community building;
and the custodian of the city dump grounds.


The UrVjana Park Board has 5 members, 2 elected every 2 years for six-
year terms (overlapping system). They elect a president and a vice-
president, and appoint a treasurer and secretary who is not a member.
The committee on pool, buildings and grounds, and recreation supervises
five parks. It employs one regular policeman and an extra man on week-
end nights at the pool, during the season. These men check on all parks
by car.

The Urbana Park District is separated from the city government. It
levies its own tax, limited by the state, plus a recreation levy (voted by
the people several years ago). It also collects fees for the pool, boats,
dance hall, tables, and pavilion. Its two levies furnish about $35,000 a

The appointed non-salaried boards are the Planning Commission or
Zoning Commission, the Zoning Appeals Board, and the City Library

The money to operate the city administration comes from taxes. A
budget is prepared by each department, made into an appropriations ordin-
ance by the finance committee, and passed by the council. Then a levy
ordinance is voted requesting the county clerk to levy taxes in the required
amount. The budget is published in the newspapers, filed in Springfield,
and audited at the end of the year. Taxes are levied on all property.
Other sources of income are the $5 wheel tax, parking meters, and licenses.
The city may borrow up to 75 per cent of the next year's income, but has
so far operated on a cash basis.



























The court system in Champai<?n-Urbana consists of Justice of the
Peace Courts, Police Magistrate Courts in each city, the County Court, and
the Circuit Court.

Justice of the Peace Courts

Justices of the peace are elected at regular townships elections for
four-year terms. The cities of Champaign and Urbana are located in 4 dif-
ferent townships : the Town of the City of Champaign ; Champaign Town-
ship (outside the Town of the City of Champaign, which includes certain
parts of the urban area of Champaign) ; Cunningham Township (the
major portion of the city of Urbana) ; and Urbana Township (certain
portions of the urban area of Urbana). Five justices are elected in the
Town of the City of Champaign, an equal number in Champaign Town-
ship; five are elected in Cunningham Township, and three in Urbana
Township. Every township is entitled to two justices of the peace and
one additional justice for every thousand population, up to a limit of five.

There are an equal number of constables elected in the same townships
and for the same terms of office. They are the process servers and bail-
iffs of the several justices of the peace in their respective townships.
Constables are paid no salaries and derive their compensation through
fees established by law, charged and collected for service of writs and

Justice courts, by the constitution and statutes of Illinois, have juris-
diction of civil cases up to $500, and criminal jurisdiction where punish-
ment is by fine only, and does not exceed $300. They also have jurisdiction
for purposes of conducting preliminary examinations and binding accused
persons over to the county grand jury. They can accept bail for certain
cases. The territorial jurisdiction of each justice of the peace is through-
out the county. There are no qualifications prescribed for the office of
justice of the peace except that he shall be a legal voter and a year resi-
dent of the town. The justice of the peace is compensated entirely through
fees set up by statute such as $3 for a trial, $1 for a summons. These
fees are generally charged and collected from the litigants appearing in
his court. The justice of the peace has the additional function of sitting
as a member of several township boards for which he is paid by the town-
ship. Cases are heard at an office if the justice has one, and if not, in any
other place within the township designated by the justice for the holding
of his courts.


Police Magistrate Courts

There is a police magistrate elected in the City of Champaign and one
in the City of Urbana for a term of four years in the respective city elec-
tions. The police magistrates are paid salaries fixed by ordinance and paid
by the cities. The police magistrate likewise has jurisdiction of civil and
criminal cases in the same manner as the justice of the peace. He returns
all fines under city ordinances to city treasurers and all fines under the
state law to the county treasurer.

A party in a trial before a police magistrate or justice of the peace may
demand a jury of not less than six nor more than twelve persons, but in
civil cases the party demanding a trial by jury must pay the required
jury fees.

Both police magistrates enjoy extensive civil use of their courts in ad-
dition to their city and state cases of criminal nature. Parking tickets
issued by University police may be taken before any justice in the Twin
Cities, also before the two police magistrates. The police magistrates have
offices provided for them by their respective cities in the city building.

County Court

The county court is located in
the court house in Urbana. The
county judge is elected in the gen-
eral election for a term of four
years. This court has general
jurisdiction of civil and criminal
cases in which the amount claimed
does not exceed $2000, or where
the punishment is not imprison-
ment in the penitentiary or death.
Appeal may be taken from the
justice of the peace court or police
magistrate court to the county
court. In addition the county court has general probate juris-
diction, guardianship, adoptions and certain jurisdiction over
juveniles. The county judge is paid a salary fixed by law
according to population and is paid by the county; he may
not charge fees for his judicial services. A county judge de-
votes full time to the work of his court. There is no require-
ment by law that he be a lawyer, but by custom in this county
only lawyers run for the office.


In the county court, processes and writs are served by the sheriff and

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