Recap City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council special meeting where aldermen are scheduled to discuss affordable housing and the city's budget among other issues.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.

It's 6:08 p.m. and we now have a quorum of aldermen present. The meeting is likely to get underway shortly.

Meeting called to order at 6:09 p.m.

Seven aldermen are present at roll call. Aldermen Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, arrived moments later.

Mayor urges more "civility" in discussions in city. Notes lack of civility in discussions at national level.

Housing Authority of Cook County Executive Director Richard Monocchio discusses plans for new mixed-income housing development for senior citizens planned to be adjacent to its existing Perlman Apartments at 1900 Sherman Ave. Related story. It would be just south of the existing building, on what's now the parking lot for that building.

Planned to be 84 unit building, 11 stories, including ground-floor retail or offices and two floors of above-ground parking.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says the proposal looks like a wonderful plan. Says the staff from the housing authority has been tremendous. Hopes they are able to get the funding for it.

Monocchio says some funding may come from the state, another portion may be privately funded. That will impact what the rent levels will be.

Public comment

23 people signed up to speak.

SP 1 - 2019 Budget "next steps"

Hitesh Desai, city treasurer, says city finances are in stable condition for this year.

Budget presentation.

Ashley King, finance and budget manager, does presentation on priority-based budgeting.

Memo suggests outsourcing crossing guard program could save around $200K a year.

Alderman Fiske says, regarding Noyes Cultural Arts Center, that is looking for way to make it self-sustaining. Possibly create endowment tied to the building having been designed by Daniel Burnham.

Says the building needs $4 million in repairs.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons suggests requiring regular rental inspections of vacation rentals.

Vacation rental income to city so far this year $200K

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says feedback system on vacation rental sites makes it unlikely that "dumps" will be rented successfully.

Says the fact we're inspecting apartments doesn't mean we need to inspect vacation rental.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says should press District 65 more to pay for school crossing guards at their schools.

King says there are 24 more programs yet to be reviewed as part of the priority-based budgeting process.

Kimberly Richardson, deputy city manager, says will have a report Sept. 17 on the nearlly 200 social services programs offered or supported by the citiy.

Fire Chief Brian Scott does a budget update. Largely a recap of one he did a month or so ago.

In response to question from Alderman Fleming, says that will be looking to purchase a new fire engine soon, which will cost around $500K

Police Chief Richard Eddington says department has been reducing overtime compared to last year.

Says some overtime costs are being reimbursed by Northwestern University and by St. Francis Hospital.

Asked about cost of overtime for NU football games ... city manager says when issue gets raised with other Big 10 schools he hears that we're the only town that has an amusement tax collected from the university and that all the other schools are public schools and so they don't pay building permit fees either.

City manager says are "looking at everything" regarding parking fees.

Says looking at Sept. 13, a Wednesday, for an outreach meeting.

Plan to use A Balancing Act website for resident feedback on the budget.

Financial report accepted.

SP 2 - Prevailing wage resolution

Approved.

SP 3 - Storefront modernization for 1901-1903 Church and 1623 Simpson.

To help six small businesses that are women and minority-owned. $103K

Rue Simmons says the businesses involved don't have the resources to be able to pay the 50% match usually required for the program.

Says the grants will help make the businesses more successful. So far hardly any of the facade improvement grants have been awarded in the 5th Ward.

Approved 9-0.

SP 4 - Hillard Heintze contract for EPD administrative review 

Approved 9-0

SP 5 - Police chief recruitement vendor and process

City manager says will have a "pre-meeting" with the community to define the specifications for the job search.

Fleming says she'd like to have an opportunity for community to meet with finalists for the job.

City manager says that may discourage quality candidates, but he's happy to talk to the recruiting firm about that.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says he supports Fleming's idea.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says it somebody has a job and it becomes public knowledge that they're looking for another job, that could cause them to lose their existing job, so that practical reality would shrink the pool of qualified candidates.

Report accepted.

SP 6 - Affordable housig work plan update

Sarah Flax, housing and grants administrator, makes presentation.

Says want to reduce uncertainty, which tends add delays and costs for developers.

Related story

Another story

Motion to move forward with scope of work as outlined by staff

Approved.on voice vote.

SP 7 - Tenant-based rental assistance program renewal funding.

Held until Aug. 13.

SP 8 - 2018 emergeny solutions grant recommendation.

Approved.

SP 9 - Lincoln Street beach ownership and operations

City manager says it's a difficult issue. Says may need additional legal staff to work on it.

Say may be able to provide an update in September.

Fiske says if it turns out to be public land, should operate the same way as operate other public beaches. Says now it's confusing.

City manager says the university considers it to be their land.

Mayor says council has a lot on its agenda -- we have a beach that NU is willing to operate and maintain. Isn't that achieving the same outcome -- enjoyment of the beach for all the residents.

Fiske says it doesn't look like a public beach.

Mayor says doesn't want to end up with a lawsuit -- NU let's the public walk the campus -- wouldn't necessarily have to.

No action taken. Staff to do additional work on the issue.

SP 10 & 11 - Appointments

Approved.

Call of the wards

Revelle ...National Night Out ... week from tomorrow ... Twiggs Park ... joint 5th and 7th Ward event

Fleming ... National Night Out ... 9th Ward ... Kamen Park West .. Tuesday Aug 7 6p to 8p.

Braithwaite ... Nationa Night Out ... Penny Park ... Star Wars movie ... Tuesday Aug. 7.

Council moves to go into executive session.

Public meeting ens at 10:39 p.m.

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