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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.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 8:45 p.m.

Mayor Steve Hagerty asks veterans to stand … and they’re given a round of applause.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz honors two retiring employees — Bob Dorneker, assistant director of Parks Department, and Cindy Plante of the Economic Development Division.

City Clerk Devon Reid says 52K registered voters this month (up 2K since March … with 500+ using same-day registration). Related story

Nearly 75% turnout in 6th Ward… 5th Ward was above 50%

Public Comment

More than 40 people signed up. Started about 9:10 p.m.

Comment ends at 10:14 p.m.

Special order of business

2019 proposed budget

Related story

City manager says city has 805 full time equivalent employees.

Budget will have direct impact on those people, he says.

Says difficult recommendations, but large team of people come to work every day to do the best for the people of Evanston. Among the proposals

  • Real estate transfer tax $700K … unclear what the market will do in the transation.
  • Property tax levy increase … about 2 percent each of the last several years .. now planning to do it again this year (previously had hoped to avoid a property tax levy this year) but now requesting 2% levy increase this year.
  • Sunday meters to start at 1 p.m. (instead of noon)
  • Transporttion network tax increase.
  • Ambulance fee increases…. $400K
  •  

Total $4.8million in additional revenuews

Expense changes …

  • Restore $50K for arts
  • Add two PEOs.
  • Retaining vital records in Health Department …offer 3 days a week.
  • Add management analysis for Health Department
  • Eliminated the proposed addition of civilian community engagement specialist
  • Hold 4 police officer positions vacant (rather than eliminate them)
  • Drop closure of fire station 4
  • Keep 4 firefighter positions vacant
  • Increase Fire Department overtime budget
  • Set aside funds ($20K) for review of fire services
  • Eliminate planned salary increases (subject to union approval).
  • Several other changes

Expense adjustments total $2.8 million.

Manager says budget is balanced and fair and one we can live with.

Mayor says new version of budget — while difficult — is better than the first one.

Manager says could adopt budget either on Nov. 19 or Nov. 26.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she’s very concerned about the mental health funding. Doesn’t want to cut it at all. Suggests adding another parking enforcement officer … or raising the property tax even more … or ???

Says mental health spending saves on police and fire calls and homelessness issues.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks whether there’s a difference in the tax on packaged liquor versus liquor by the glass.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, suggests raising parking fees rather than increasing the number of parking enforcement officers.

Says might also offer free use of top floors of garages as a tradeoff.

Assistant City Manager Erica Storlie says could raise residential parking permit fee to $50 in 2020 … city now is planning to raise the rate from $15 to $30 for this year.

City clerk suggest having his office handle vital records — says wouldn’t require additional staff.

Fiske moves to keep vital records in Health Department

Vote is 8-1 to keep in Health Department. Fleming votes for moving it to Clerk’s office.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, asks about charters and shuttle buses.

Corporaton Counsel Michelle Masoncup says Chicago has a regulatory program for that.

Rainey wants to tax the “Free Enterprise” bus (that does the NU shuttle).

(It’s 11:16 p.m. now.)

City manager says can come back with version 2.5 of the budget next week.

Fiske suggests looking at private buses in a different way — tax on ridership — to encourage using smaller buses — reduce exhaust.

Fiske says with no dog beach are losing $60K to $90K a year. Perhaps could find another play area on the lakefront.

Rainey asks whose tickets are taxed on

City manager says 4% tax …not apply to government agencies, non-profit groups, etc.

Largest entertainment tax is the movie theater.

Rainey suggests Theo Ubique should be paying the amusement tax. And suggests could use that for arts programs.

City manager says it would be $70K in additional revenue if raised the tax by 1 percent. Says can’t predict what expanding the scope of the tax would raise.

Clerk Reid wants to increase his budget by $25K.

City manager says clerk’s office budget for this year was $191K is coming in at $210K is proposed at $183K for next year (mainly because of decrease in health insurance costs citywide.

Details on p. 67 of the proposed budget.

Mayor says clerk’s office went over the budget by $19K.

Expenses

Rainey argues for more funding for arts.

Braithwaite wants more detail about proposed health department analyst position.

City manager promises more information by next week.

Consent agenda

Now about 11:45 p.m.

Off consent …

A 11 – We Got Game contract

A 27 – Transportation network company tax

P 4 – 2616 Reese zoning relief {held in committee}

P 6 – 1571 Maple PD adjustment

Consent agenda approved at 12:00 a.m.

A 11 – We Got Game contract

Amend to be for one year instead of three.

Hoping to find local organization that could handle this, or find city employee to do the job.

Approved 8-1. Fleming votes no.

A 16 – Municipal Solid Waste charge increases

Approved 8-1. Fleming votes no.

A 27 – Transporation network company tax

Amended to $0.45 for most rides, $0.20 for shared rides and free for handicap vehicles

Approved.

P 6 – 1571 Maple PD adjustment

Fiske asks to just Maple Avenue garage rather than Maple or Sherman.

Wilson says would prefer to keep the flexibility to have both garages

But drops that from his amendment… which does call for changing the garage space rental number to 55 rather than 70 and to modify the AMI percentage to 60% rather than 50%

Approved.

Wilson moves to suspend the rules and give final action tonight.

Approved.

Call of the wards

Rue Simmons … ward meeting Wednesday 7p at Family Focus theater.

Fleming … says she’s frustrated that didn’t keep the youth and young adult program intact. Hopes to have a fuller discussion by next week — or at a time certain.

Meeting adjourned at 12:15 a.m.

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