Evanston aldermen Monday voted unanimously to not make cuts in the city’s youth and young adult services program or the summer youth jobs program as they reviewed a range of options for closing a nearly $3 million budget gap for next year.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, proposed the motion, saying including those programs in a community survey of possible program reductions had created a lot of anxiety around town.

A substantial number of people have turned out to defend the programs at every Council meeting since they were included on a list of 46 programs that had scored in the bottom third in a staff evaluation of more than 150 programs operated by the city.

Supporters ranged from coaches in youth sports programs to young people who said their lives had been turned around by the intervention of city youth outreach workers.

The staff analysis had indicated that the youth and young adult services program has a net cost to the city of $940,844 and that the summer youth employment program costs $602,314.

Options to increase revenue

City staff had proposed a range of options for increasing revenue next year.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she was opposed to an increase in the real estate transfer tax — unless it only applied to homes valued at over $1.5 million — a form of progressive taxation that the city’s legal department doubts is legal in Illinois.

Braithwaite and Rainey both said they were opposed to adding red light cameras at city intersections to raise ticket revenue. And City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said they could “consider it removed” from the list.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she was open to increasing rates at the city’s parking garages and indexing those rates to inflation.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said the city should figure out whether adding parking meters along the lakefront would actually increase parking revenue — given that much parking along the lake is seasonal and new meters aren’t cheap.

Wynne and Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said they both opposed the idea of selling off the city’s Maple Avenue parking garage, given the repeated failure of asset sale schemes in Chicago.

Other than red light cameras, no revenue ideas were definitively dropped.

Other possibilities include increasing the home rule sales tax, creating a new tax on prepared food and beverages and increasing the wheel tax on cars.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. youth programs

      Those programs should have never even been listed on that agenda!  Foolish suggestions show that the Evanston youth and all the recreational programs are not the priority on the 4th floor.   I would think “someone” should be very embarrassed even mentioning it.  …but it shows true colors.

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