Evanston aldermen tonight take their first formal look at the city's 150th annual budget — one that could be the least painful in years.
The proposed budget from City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz calls for a slight reduction in property taxes and a net reduction of five full-time-equivalent city jobs as part of a plan to close a projected $1 million budget deficit.
By comparson, the city has cut a total of 92 full-time-equivalent positions over the past five years and increased property taxes 22 percent.
The total city spending, net of interfund transfer, has risen nearly 34 percent over the same period — with the difference funded by increases in other taxes and fees, beyond the property tax.
The 2013 proposed budget calls for a 2.6 percent reduction in total net spending.
While the lack of a property tax hike should be a comfort to aldermen heading into next spring's city election, some on the council have pushed to overturn a proposed cutback in public safety pension fund contributions recommended by the city's actuary.
Keeping pension funding at the same level would require either finding about $700,000 in other spending cuts, or eliminating the cut in the property tax levy.
But supporters say it's important to start closing the city's huge gap in pension funding, and the actuary's proposal would see the city's pension funding level slip fractionally next year.
Tonight's meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at the Civic Center.
Top: A detal from the sesquicentennial logo adorning the cover of the city's proposed budget.