Evanston aldermen Monday directed city staff to develop 2016 budget plans that anticipate some funding cuts from the state — but not as big a reduction as Gov. Rauner has proposed.

With the state government still without an adopted budget a week into its new fiscal year, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told aldermen her best guess is that ultimately lawmakers and the governor will agree to reducing the share of the state income tax provided to municipalities, but less than the 50 percent cut Rauner proposed.

A 50 percent cut would cost Evanston about $3.75 million. Tisdahl said she estimates the realistic worst case scenario is a cut of $1.75 million, with a good scenario involving a reduction of just a half million.

“They usually come up with huge cut numbers, and then when they cut it just half as much they want you to think you’ve triumphed,” Tisdahl said.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he generally shared Tisdahl’s estimate about the likely scope of the budget hit from Springfield.

He said there’s also been talk the state might impose a property tax freeze on municipalities, but added, “We’ve been pretty good about holding the line on property taxes, so I’m less concerned about that.”

The funding uncertainty, Bobkiewicz said, has led to a lot of uncertainty among city staff.

“People are going to all believe they’re going to lose their jobs,” he said, “and I’ve worked diligently to dissuade them of that.”

Bobkiewicz said city staff would work to prepare two budget scenarios — one anticipating $500,000 less from the state, the other $1.5 million less, and aldermen agreed to schedule a special council meeting to discuss budget issues on Aug. 31.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What would the city really cut ?

    Why would the Governor not make the full cuts ?   He like taxpayers has to assume the Council has secret funds they think they can use.

    With all the spending for pet projects, money to those they think are “winners”, bad deals, etc., it would seem clear they don’t really take any shortfall serious.   While they fund their favorites, they neglect the real needs and cry “poverty” assuming Springfield will say “…you can’t neglect the poor, schools and such so we will bail you out–again.”

    1. I somewhat agree with you

      If state cuts 50%, the city will need to make changes. Will they lay people off? Will they cut projects that benefit their friends or family? Will they raise fees and taxes?

      I don't know the answer but, based on track record, I have my suspicions.

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