A half-dozen Evanston city staffers were left feeling a bit like the Maytag repairman Wednesday night when no private citizens turned out for a citizen budget input session at the Chandler-Newberger Center.
With only a couple of reporters in the audience, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz decided not to go through the 36-page slide deck and instead provided a quick preview of the budget he’s scheduled to unveil on Oct. 11.
“No layoffs and no significant reductions in services,” Bobkiewicz said, adding that, as a result of informal coffee-shop chats with residents, he’s considering a number of ideas for spending some one-time funds on efforts like buying more parkway trees and repaving additional streets.
After major layoffs in 2009 and 2010, city staffing levels have declined only slightly in recent years. Back in 2007 the city had 867 full-time-equivalent workers. That’s down to 789 this year.
From the slide deck you missed — Evanston’s property tax levy is up sharply from several years ago (top), but its total levy is in the middle of the pack among towns city officials included in this comparison (above).
He said his 2014 budget proposal will include funds for two additional positions in the police department that the City Council approved in recent months, along with an arts coordinator and a supervisor for health inspection programs.
The city still faces huge unfunded liabilities in its public safety pension funds and higher than average general obligation debt levels which have led to a recent downgrading of its bond rating.
It’s not yet clear how far the new budget will go in addressing those issues.
The city manager is scheduled to hold a Facebook town hall meeting on budget issues at noon today.