We are in the middle of the skunk mating season, so I am not surprised that you are seeing more skunks. Skunks are polygamous and mate between mid-February to mid-March. The female has one litter of four to eight young in May or early June. Young begin to venture out on hunting expeditions with the female at seven weeks, and are fully weaned by the time they are two months old. The female cares for the young alone. In the fall, young skunks disperse to find their own territories. When your neighbors see groups of skunks, I would bet that they are seeing females with their young of the year.
In Illinois, skunks are protected as Furbearers. In urban areas, skunks that are causing property damage or that pose a public health threat may be removed if an animal removal permit is issued by an IDNR District Wildlife Biologist. Skunk populations are controlled by many factors including the availability of food, water, shelter, and breeding sites. Their numbers are kept in check by predators, hunters and trappers, and motor vehicles.
While some people may find it disturbing to see skunks, they are an important part of the food web. They help control populations of insects and grubs. As long as they are not approaching people, they do not pose much threat. Skunks can be carriers of rabies, but the Illinois Department of Public Health has not had a documented case of a skunk with rabies since 2005. http://www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/rabies.htm A rabies fact sheet can be found at: http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/hb/hbrabies.htm
Skunks will spray if they feel threatened. If pets or people get sprayed, you can use this solution to help get rid of the smell. Mix 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Do not add water. This solution can be used to wash skin, clothes, dogs, etc. that have been sprayed by skunks. Due to the peroxide, the solution may lighten the fur of pets.
For more information about skunks you can go to: http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/wildlife/directory_show.cfm?species=skunk