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Recap: City Council

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Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting at which aldermen are scheduled to have their first formal discussion about the 2019 city budget.

The meeting is scheduled to start shortly after 7 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:18 p.m.

Mayor Steve Hagerty says big topic tonight is the budget — how to close the $7.4 million budget gap. “Tough decisions will have to be made,” he says.

Mayor says City Council has concluded City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s employment review. Says he’s exceeded expections again this year, although ratings were slightly lower than last year.

Says manager asked for no salary increase for the coming year.

Group Kartwheel For Kids is recognized for raising $7,400 for a city program.

609 voters at early voting today, city clerk says, third highest in the county.

Public Comment

50 people signed up to speak. Mayor says they’ll get one minute each

Mary Larson, School District 65 health director, criticizes proposed cuts to city’s health department.

Don Ziegler, health advisory council, says cuts would end the health department’s effectiveness.

Dr. Lynn Gettleman-Chehab says cutting health department would cost the city $800K in lost federal and state grant money.

Paul Barker complains about restructuring of the youth and young adult division.

Alyce Barry says city manager is assaulting the youth and young adult division.

Joey Rodger objects to cuts in police department social worker positions.

Oliver Ruff says budget seems to reflect distain — objects to splitting up the youth and young adult division … and to health department cuts.

Mary Rosinski says going forward with the agreeement to demolish Harley Clarke will cost even more money. Says it’s a Trojan Horse that will leave us with a bill.

Mark Schroeder, official at North Shore Community Health System, says Evanston Hospital has an excellent relationship with the city’s Health Department — urges that the department’s functions still are available to Evanston residents.

Pastor Michael Nabors, 2nd Baptist Church, opposes cuts to Health and Human Services, the Gibbs Morrison Center and reorganization of the youth and young adult programs.

Representative of North Shore Senior Center opposes cuts to mental health programs.

Judith Treadway suggests an employee tax on city workers who don’t live in Evanston.

Several people speak in opposition to cuts to the Fire Department.

Karen Courtright suggests dropping the lawsuit against the utilities over pipes in James Park. Says police staffing is “way out of wack” compared to other cities in Illinois.

Betty Bogg of Connections with the Homeless opposes cuts to the mental health board.

Louise Brown objects to imposing parking fees for parking downtown on Sundays.

Public comment concluded at 8:47 p.m.

SP 1 – 2019 budget presentation

Budget hearing on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9 a.m. .. likely to run until noon.

Budget deliberations on Monday Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

Additional meetings Nov. 12 and 19. Budget adoption expected on Nov. 19

The budget presentation is here.

Says there has to be a balance between the services the city provides and keeping the city affordable for residents. Says it’s a very difficult balance to strike.

Baseline budget includes $2.6 million in salary increases for union and non-union employees.

No increase in property tax rate, but expect about $1M in additional regular property tax revenue from the closure of the Washington National TIF.

A range of fee increases are in the budget proposal.

Layoffs and budget cuts.

Budget balancing effort includes proposing no wage increase for non-union employees.

Budget documents are online here.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, says has identified some additional revenue streams and opportunities to keep Gibbs Morrison Center in operation. Says city has invested a lot in improvements there. Says hopes will stay committed to that faciity. Wants to take that off the list of cuts.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says doesn’t want to see that center close. Would have a very negative impact on the community.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says its already identified within the community as a resource — reluctant to take that away. Thinks there are adjustments that can be made to increase revenues.

Bobkiewicz says thinks additional revenue can be generated at the center. Will come back with a full plan in a couple of weeks.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says shouldn’t take things off the table at this juncture. Need to get a budget memo detailing the plans. Says every cut is a really hard cut. Heard a lot of impassioned pleas for a lot of programs.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says Gibbs Morrison never had a program there. She supports keeping it opening.

Motion to delete the cut to Gibbs Morrison is approved 7-2. Wynne and Wilson vote more.

Braithwaite wants to keep Youth and Young Adult program in existing structure at least until after the budget season.

Rainey says have to go to the issue of revenue — how are we going to support the programs we’re leaving in place.

Wilson says the program is fully funded. Doesn’t think Braithwaite’s motion is appropriate.

Bobkiewicz says notified council of intent to make some staffing changes that’s wihtin his right as city manager.

Says intent was to talk to the employees involved, but the employee reached out to the community through social media first.

Wynne says council made it very clear back in July that were fully funding the youth and young adult programs. Says she doesn’t support any cut in funding — and no cut in funding has been proposed. Says Braithwaite’s proposal would take over the role of the city manager to carry out council policies.

Wilson says it’s a fully funded program. Says council also wanted to enhance the workforce development program.

Wilson says Council is getting sucked into a trap. Either have tell people what they want to hear or what they need to hear.

Says we’re not elected to micro-manage the city manager. Good luck finding anyone to work here if we start doing that, Wilson says.

Fiske says there’s confusion out in the community. Says would be helpful when there’s confusion to have the city manager explain the rationale. Says doesn’t think there’s anything negative in what he’s thinking.

Bobkiewicz says in an email to council a few weeks ago, he said council made compelling argument to leave the youth and young adult program.

Says since Kevin Brown came on have made several great hires. But were lacking in a broader program for workforce development. Many residents underemployed. Says needed a single staff person focused on workforce development.

Came up with lplan to leave the youth program in tact have Ken Cherry at Fleetwood Jourdain take over supervision of that. Have Brown take the lead on workfroce development.

Says the promotion requires council approval, the reorganization of staff does not.

Fleming supports Braithwaite proposal. No reason to cause more alarm in the community.

Braithwaite says city manager should listen to the comments of the community and just wait.

Bobkiewicz says he’s disappointed that the credibility that he has in this area to build resources over many budgets for this program.

Says a reorganization would make this a better program. Council said workforce development was one of your handful of goals — so he’s made a recommendation to put the right people in the right positions to accomplish that.

City Attorney Michelle Masoncup says doesn’t understand the motion and doesn’t think what’s being proposed in the resoution is appropriate.

Fiske says the workforce issue is crucial to the community.

Rue Simmons asks for more clarity for the community about what changes are being proposed.

Bobkiewicz suggests returning to council on Nov. 12 with full discussion of the issue.

Braithwaite withdraws his motion.

Consent agenda

Approved, except for the following items taken off the consent agenda …

A 3 – Amazon credit card off consent.

Approved 8-0. Suffredin abstains.

A 13 – Washington National TIF dissolution 

Approved 9-0.

P 1 – 2415 Wade zoning variations.

Approved 8-0. Rue Simmons abstains.

Call of the Wards

Wynne… town hall Thursday at Lincoln School 7p.

Rainey … says there’s some advertising that is totally misrepresenting what the transfer tax referendum would do.

Fleming … budget meeting Wednesday 3:30 p.m. at Little Beans. Thursday at 7 p.m. ward meeting at Chute.

Council votes to go into executive session

Public meeting ends at 10:44 p.m.

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