Evanston aldermen are scheduled to discuss possible further modifications to next year’s city budget when they hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
City staff has already recommended reducing the size of the property tax increase originally proposed from 5.9% to 4.9%. That cuts the total levy by $500,000 from $58.4 million to $57.7 million, but slicing in half the planned contribution to rebuild the city’s “rainy day fund” — the general fund reserve.
That would bring the reserve fund to 12.7% of annual general fund expenses. The city has set a target of having 16.7% — or two months of expenses in reserve. An inadequate reserve is one of the factors that can lead to a downgrade of a municipalities debt by rating agencies, which in turn would raise the cost of paying for capital improvements.
Residents demanding further cuts to police spending staged an all-day sit-in on Saturday outside the home of Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, at which they demanded that she vote to defund the police and not run for reelection.
The city currently has 56 full-time vacant positions, not including jobs at the library.
Twenty-one of those positions are at the police department. The budget calls for eliminating 13 of those positions, holding six vacant for 2021 and only filling two next year.
The budget calls for increasing total police spending by just over $1 million next year, from $39 million to $40 million. But more than 90% of that increase is due to additional funding for the city’s underfunded police pension program.