The mayoral budget task force scheduled to be approved by City Council tonight will likely focus most of its effort on long-term fixes to Evanston’s financical crisis.

That’s the word from 6th Ward resident Mark Sloane, who says he’s been asked by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to chair the panel.

The mayoral budget task force scheduled to be approved by City Council tonight will likely focus most of its effort on long-term fixes to Evanston’s financical crisis.

That’s the word from 6th Ward resident Mark Sloane, who says he’s been asked by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to chair the panel.

Sloane, in a brief interview after Sunday’s 18th District state house debate, said the group is unlikely to have any report until after the City Manager issues his proposed budget for FY 2010-11 in late December.

Sloane says the panel may have something to say about the upcoming budget, but plans to focus more on what the city should do over the next several years to fix its budget woes.

The separate series of public budget workshops organized by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is scheduled to wrap up next Monday with a 7 p.m. session at the Civic Center.

That’s to be followed by a presentation of the results of the workshops to a special City Council meeting a week later.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. Long term view.
    I think Mark Sloane’s comments are the direction the committte should follow. It seems that a moderate to long term thorough review of the budget and its process will provide the city, its staff and its residents with more of a sense of predictability and stability.

    Hopefully, the silver lining of this economic downturn will be that we as a city we can adapt an economically sustainable existance without over burdening our residents and businesses.

    I wish all the best to the committee for its sorely needed work.

    Congratulations Mayor for the forethought.

  2. Same as it ever was
    Sure, Sloane’s promises of zero-based budgeting sound good but consider…

    Sloane campaigned on promises to invest in more recreational facilities, including a new ice rink at Robert Crown.

    Sloane also campaigned that “health insurance costs for city workers are higher than what he’s seen in private industry and deserve to be reexamined.”

    OK, so now Evanston is $8 million in the hole, and so far, NO UNION CITY EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN LAID OFF in this severe Recession with a state unemployment rate at 10.2 percent. Property tax rates continue to rise as property values continue to plunge.

    We have the president of the city union employees on the task force.

    And you’re telling me that Sloane who seems to be concerned that union city employers are paying too much for health insurance and wants to build a new ice rink with a budget $8 million in the red is going to provide the task force with sound fiscal advice?

    Sorry, but the obvious is real clear here, folks. It’s time to LAY OFF CITY EMPLOYEES!!!!!! Labor costs is the biggest budget expense by far.

    Does anyone really think the task force will recommend laying off some union employees when the president of the union is on the task force, and the guy chairing the task force is really concerned that these union employees are paying too much in their health care coverage?

    BTW-THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSED SLOANE!!!!!

    Sure, Sloane will do an excellent job heading these cats. It’s an EZ task for him really because the entire task force is cast from the same mold.

    1. Agreed
      Although politically difficult to accomplish, the solution to solving our budget woes is a simple process:

      1)Lay off employees
      2)Cut benefits for those who remain

      I’m not sure what these “long term fixes” are that they speak of, but I’m willing to bet they are code for tax increases.

    2. Al – Please get your facts straight
      “BTW-THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSED SLOANE!!!!!” I don’t think so. The only endorsement I received was from the Evanston Review and 758 voters in the 6th ward.

      Sloane also campaigned that “health insurance costs for city workers are higher than what he’s seen in private industry and deserve to be reexamined.”
      This means that either our premiums are too high or the employees’ contribution are too low. I believe that the City Manager or Assistant City Manager at a Budget Meeting specifically stated that employee contributions were low compared to average. Something we will need to address and potentially require increased contributions by City employees.

      Although you are correct that no City employees have been laid off, a reduction in the City workforce has occurred over the last two years by not hiring vacant positions. This accomplishes the same goal as a lay-off, but is substantially less painful to all.

      As 75% of the City’s expenses are payroll related, the only way to plug an $8 million gap is by reducing the workforce. This will happen. The key is to do this with the least amount of impact to the citizens of our community.

      With regard to Robert Crown, the building is in disrepair. We not only have a facility that is not meeting the needs of our community, but we are leaving revenue on the table because of the facility. At last week’s Council meeting, the Council directed staff to look for private entities that may be interested in designing, financing, building and running a new Robert Crown. The revenue return on a new facility is there, we just need to find the right organization to build and run it for us.

      Al, I understand and appreciate your negative comments on the new Budget Advisory Committee. I’d ask that you give us an opportunity to perform before you dismiss us.

      I appreciate the opportunity the Mayor has given me to help solve our systemic budgeting crisis. I look forward to tackling it head on, with or without Al’s support.

  3. My apologies but still…
    My apologies, Mark. I confused you with your opponent and the winning 6th ward candidate, Mark Tendam, who did receive the Democratic party’s support.

    I do appreciate very much you volunteering your time on the task force.

    If you do indeed want to increase the city employee’s contributions to their healthcare plan, that’s great but I don’t think that was clear in your campaign.

    Nevertheless, to suggest the city has reduced it’s workforce “by not hiring vacant positions” is voodoo accounting. That’s like saying new jobs were created because they were saved. In comparison, over the same period, how many new jobs were created and filled in the city? I know there were some, Mark.

    You campaigned to “invest” in the Robert Crown rink. If there’s a plan to turn it over to a private enterprise that would allow the city to reduce staff and other expenses, I say great. But I’ll believe that when I see it.

    In fact, I think the city should sell off some of its assets such as Curry Park at Chiaravalle and 1817 Church – the building and $200,000 the city gave to a group to create an African-American museum. Last year, the city took it back when it was discovered nothing had been done after seven years. Now, unbelievably, the city, which never got back the 200 grand, is looking for someone else to GIVE IT TO!!!!

    Yes, my comments of the task force is justifiably negative when you have the president of the union there and a host of other social program advocates, making budget recommendations. I’m sure you have seen over the years how the Council simply could not make the hard decisions to make significant cutbacks but rather shuffle off the budget problems at a later date all the while raising fees and taxes.

    I’ll promise to support you, Mark, if you promise to convince the task force to permanently lay off union city employees and create ideas to ATTRACT new businesses and not scare them away with higher taxes, fees and stifling regulations.

    The proposal to tax free parking at St. Francis Hospital and doubling the garbage rate instead of choosing the more fiscally appealing option of contracting out garbage and recycling services and ridding seven union employees is a REALLY bad start.

    Good luck.

  4. Kellogg & Budget Panel
    Has anyone from the Mayor’s Office contacted the Kellogg School of Management for participation on this Budget Panel?

    Seems like a great resource next door and a nice vehicle to improve relations between Evanston and NU.

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