City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has asked the City Council to make $1.5 million in budget cuts beyond the minimum $9.5 million required to balance the city’s budget.

Bobkiewicz has said the additional reductions could be used to help pay down the city’s pension deficit or restore general fund reserves, and they’d also help the city deal with its ongoing structural deficit — which has seen city expenses rise about $3 million a year faster that current revenues even during good economic times. They might also offer some alternatives to cuts proposed in the main package of spending reductions.

Memos released late last week detail the impact those additional cuts would have.

Fully half the cuts would fall on the Parks and Recreation Department:

  • The Ecology Center would be closed and its programs eliminated to save $200,000.
  • The Fleetwood-Jourdain Center would lose its full-tiem theater program manager and a part-time clerk who works evenings to save $100,000.
  • The Levy Senior Center would lose one of two full-time program manager positions and its shuttle bus program would end, saving $150,000.
  • The Robert Crown center will see part-time clerical and recreation aide positions cust to save $50,000
  • The forestry division would lose three positions that handle summer mowing work in parks, tree planting in the spring and tree trimming, to save $150,000.
  • The facilities management division would lose a general tradesman position for a savings of $70,000.
  • And overtime cleanup work work at the 4th of July celebration would be eliminated to save $30,000

In addition there’d be a variety of cuts in other departments.

  • The Administrative Services Department would save $48,000 by eliminating overtime for police officers at administrative adjudication hearings and four other reductions.
  • The Community Development Department would eliminate a structural inspector’s position to save nearly $88,000.
  • The police depart would save $100,000 by eliminating what’s left of the funding for its summer plan and reducing police overtime at the 4th of July celebration.
  • The public works department would eliminate $100,000 from its administration costs.

And the plan calls a variety of additional citywide cuts, including:

  • A 5 percent increase in employee contributions to health care costs to save $50,000.
  • A 5 percent salary reduction for all managers to save $150,000.
  • An additional unpaid holiday for city workers to save $180,000.
  • A reduction in payments to city workers for cell phone costs of $30,000.

The severity of some of the additional proposed reductions illustrate difficulties faced by aldermen as they try to respond to demands that some programs be spared from proposed cuts. The identified alternatives tend not to look very attractive, either.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

  1. No merit pay raise for city union employees
    How much would the city save if the city union employees did not get a merit pay increase?

    It seems Wally B. is proposing to end the merit pay increase for non-union city employees.

    Well, while Wally B. is proposing to close the Ecology Center and branch libraries perhaps he should end the merit pay increase for union employees, too.

    There are two fire stations on Central Street less than one mile apart. Let’s close down one of them and layoff the firefighters housed there.

  2. City pension Plan
    Why not change the pension plan for new hires?

    Reply:
    At least in the case of firefighters and police, that’s a question to ask the candidates for the state house in next month’s primary election — since the current pension plan is a mandate imposed by the legislature.
    — Bill

    1. Crazy
      It’s insane to me that benefits for city employees are mandated by the state. Is this unique to the state of Illinois or is it commonplace across the country? I wonder how far back this rule goes and which special interest group was behind its installation?

  3. Very Impressive
    This is very impressive. In six months, Wally Bobkiewicz has done more damage to Evanston than Julia Carroll did in three years.

    1. Perhaps the city managers are right
      Perhaps Julia Carroll and Wally Bobkiewicz, two independent professionals, are the one’s we should be listening to rather than the impassioned pleas of those who are beholden to one particular interest (say the libraries or the police or fire pensions). We have significant problems in this town. If we don’t address the expenditure side of our income statement then we are doomed to spiral downward. Once again, I suggest that the Council take the recommendation of Mr. Bobkiewicz, our professional City Manager they took six months hiring, and spend their time focused on the long-term changes we need to make as a community to balance our budget.

  4. Budget and new revenue–not new taxes
    Proposed budget cuts should now convince residents we have a big problem. We can only cut for so long—the amount of this year’s cuts probably can’t be duplicated next year.
    Instead the city needs to grow. The Council needs to stop trying to please all the people all the time, institute their own ‘pet projects’ and let every special interest have their way. Instead of constantly increasing taxes, harassing business with new rules/laws, zoning hearings that go on forever, etc., they need to start bringing in retail and service and yes even manufacturing. Not by giving money away to them or ‘special deals’ but letting them know the city won’t harass them to death and constantly find new ways to tax them and hurt their business. I don’t mean just ‘mom and pop’ stores but maybe a Dominicks or Jewel/Osco at Lincoln/Sherman and/or Maple/Emerson; a Sears, K-Mart or Carsons or even Macys on Central where the theaters were. Residents must be given a reason to shop in Evanston and not go to Chicago or Old Orchard.
    If the residents really want an integrated community, mixed and low income housing [and not just limit it to areas they never have to see or have in their block], the taxpayer base will have to increase. Low to middle-Middle income residents taxes won’t support the community—more high income people need to see Evanston as a place to live instead of Wilmette, Winnetka, etc.—making up for the lower crime, lower tax rates, etc.. I asked a [full] NU science prof. why the Asian population is as low as reported [though I think the reports are way off]. He said those in his department find Evanston too expensive and the living conditions don’t match Wilmette and other communities and that is why so many in his department don’t live in Evanston. If things don’t change the upper incomes people won’t come/stay and the poor to middle-Middle won’t be able to afford to live here.

    1. One word: Leadership
      You nailed it, JohnF. The Council must stop playing at leadership and implement the real thing.

      Wally B., by the way, is the pro we’ve been needing, and he’s doing a great job of redirecting the mess. If the Council will step up and do its part, Evanston will be OK.

  5. Maybe we can help the merchants
    Until the Council decides they actually need business in the city, perhaps the residents can do something, perhaps small, to help merchants.

    People and legislators are upset by the fees and rates, like credit and debit cards, banks are charging. Citizens complain about what it does to their finances, but do they ever think about what their actions are costing the merchants and causing the merchants to increase their prices—yes that is what will happen.

    Everytime they [and it seems students more than anyone] use a credit/debit card to pay for a fast food meal or a few dollars of grocerys, the merchant gets charged a flat fee and a percent of the bill. Eventually they pass that on in their prices. Remeber when you saw signs like “Minimum for Charging—$10.” Today merchants can’t turn away business so they rarely say that—instead they take the card—and eventually we pay more.
    With students their daddy may use the cards to keep track of what they spend and/or not trust them with cash, or they may not have taken economics [though they look old enough], but adults should understand that this happens.

    A ‘Cashless Society’ was the cry for years—yes now you can be ‘cashless’—everyone just pays more.

  6. No surprises here
    Wally B made a mess of the community budget meetings in the fall. 50 old, white residents is not an accurate representation of the community. No useful, specific recommendations came out of the process, only vague suggestions.

    Now there is panic at the Civic Center. The budget process is disintegrating into chaos.

  7. City Budget and NU Recent Campaign
    Residents of any college or probably town with a high school are use to students having a ‘campaign de jour’ and often having little in solid facts behind them.
    NU students have recently adopted [revived] a campaign that probably most would agree with but as with the city, are short on proposals of how to get there and what to ‘give up.’
    The campaign is for a ‘living wage’ for several groups of NU workers. The proposed ‘living wage’ amount would seem reasonable to most–if not low for people with a family. However, I’ve not seen a proposal for where the money will come from—and if they do there will probably be as many groups, student, faculty, researchers, etc. opposing it as the residents of Evanston do each budget cut.
    Probably an early proposal will be for Administration cuts—since students wonder what they do to earn their pay anyway. Then will it be faculty are paid too much [grad/post-doc paid too little?], too much given to research [engineering, and even medical?], too much construction of new buildings and re-structue of old building [handicap access ?]. For Norris and other dining workers ‘increase’, food prices could be increased but would that bring less business and layoffs. What about reducing recreational facilities [including Great Room, re-do of Norris?], increase fees/tuition to pay for the ‘increase’, channel the financial aid to these workers ?. What about the wages of those at the ‘living wage level’ now—will they want their wages increased to maintain what ‘gap’ they think their responsibilities and term have [justly] brought ?
    As with all good causes there are trade-offs. You would think NU students would have faced some of these issues in their economics classes and know they have to ‘propose not just oppose.’ But like the other residents of Evanston, this has apparently not been done and if when done, expect the same howls as Evanston’s budget has brought.

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