The City of Evanston today launched a survey asking residents to rank 46 of its programs and services as officials consider possible cuts for next year’s budget.

The survey is available online now. Printed copies will be available at Evanston Public Library locations and community centers Friday. The survey deadline is Thursday, June 7.

The net cost of all the programs listed on the survey adds up to $9.3 million in annual net costs and less than $5.7 million in potential one-time capital expenditure savings from a city budget that totals over $272 million in net expenditures this year.

The survey is part of what city officials describe as a priority-based budget process. It began with a staff budget team ranking 152 programs and services offered by the city, scoring them against a single set of metrics, including whether or not the program or service was mandated by law or generated revenue.

On April 30, the Evanston City Council was presented with a list of 54 low-scoring programs suggested for inclusion in a public outreach survey.

Following feedback, the budget team then researched each program and calculated its net cost, which is the difference between program expenses and any revenues it generates.

Some items were removed from the list because revenues more than covered costs and some programs were determined to be required services. In order to maintain approximately 50 programs for consideration in the survey, some programs that were not previously included on the initial list were then added to the process.

More information about the priority-based budgeting process is available online.

The city’s also planning a budget open house from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, in Room G300 at the Civic Center.

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The survey will ask you to select your 10 most and 10 least favored programs from the list.

In case you’d like to develop your own priority list before tackling the survey, here’s the survey’s list of the programs and their descriptions:

  • School Crossing Guards – Net Cost:$461,791 – Part-time crossing guards at 52 intersections across the city
  • Human Resources – Training – Net Cost:$45,449 – Training for all employees
  • Divvy Bikes – Net Cost:$165,808 – Bike share program
  • Long-range planning (comprehensive plan, area plans) – Net Cost:$75,926 – Provides recommendations for future land use and capital improvement policies and decisions
  • Storefront Modernization Program – Net Cost:$99,980 – Small grants to improve the appearance and functionality of street-level commercial buildings located throughout the city
  • Sign Permits and Inspection Services – Net Cost:$24,639 – To ensure signs meet standards for appearance, safety and maintenance
  • Historic Preservation Review – Net Cost:$134,583 – Aid in restoration, rehabilitation, and conservation of landmark buildings and the preservation of historic districts
  • Mental Health Board – Net Cost:$750,931 – Provides funding on a grant-basis to organizations providing for the mental health and welfare of Evanston residents
  • Minority/Women/Evanston Based Enterprise & Local Employment Program – Net Cost $140,940 – Administers the City’s MWEBE and LEP Program
  • Sustainability Programs- Net Cost $137,502- Administration of sustainability, climate action, and livability
  • Boards, commission, and committee administration by resolution/ordinance – Net Cost:$293,777 – 22 standing committees created by City Ordinance or resolution; each committee is staffed by at least one employee
  • Tax Assessment Advocacy – Net Cost:$138,262 – City staff acts as a taxpayer advocate for Evanston residents in property tax appeal and exemption applications
  • Administrative Adjudication – Net Cost:$278,654 – Civil hearings offered to recipients of tickets or notices of violation issued by a City agency
  • Community Arts Administration – Net Cost:$214,656 – Coordinates the creation and installation of public art throughout Evanston
  • Revenue and Collections – Passport – Net Cost:$15,473 – Serves as U.S. passport acceptance facility
  • Fire Department Public Education/Community Engagement – Net Cost:$73,448 – Includes the Citizen Fire Academy, Fire Explorer Program, CPR classes, and other outreach
  • Community Health – Net Cost:$266,476 – Works in collaboration with community members to plan, direct, and organize health education and wellness programs for community health needs
  • Vacation Rental Permit and Administration – Net Cost:$21,225 – Licensing for rental units offered for a period shorter than 30 consecutive days; includes a life-safety licensing inspection
  • Social Services (Victim Advocacy) – Net Cost:$356,289 – Assists survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and increases their access to economic resources, physical safety, and legal protections
  • Animal Control – Net Cost $217,039 – Enforces animal ordinances, captures stray animals, controls nuisance wildlife, and removes dead animals
  • Police Community Strategies Bureau – Net Cost $197,674 – Data analysis to identify crime trends and hotspots
  • City-sponsored Special Events – Net Cost:$149,375 – City-wide special events hosted by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department
  • Workforce Development/Career Pathways – Net Cost $72,803 – Provides 20 Evanston participants (age 18-26) with a career pathway plan and paid training for entry-level positions
  • Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program – Net Cost $602,314 – Provides skills and workforce opportunities year-round for Evanston youth ages 14-18
  • Summer Food Program/Child Nutrition Program/Congregate Meal Program – Net Cost:$53,129 – Variety of food programs including free breakfast and lunch for youth in the summer, donation-based senior meals, and snacks at multiple after-school programs
  • Youth and Young Adult Services – Net Cost:$940,844- Violence interruption, alternative recreation, substance abuse treatment placement, emergency housing assistance and other services as needed
  • Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center – Net Cost:$203,339; Outstanding capital $180,000 – The building features a recording studio, community meeting space, performance venue, First Slice of Pie Café, and indoor/outdoor social gathering spaces
  • Noyes Cultural Arts Center – Net Revenue:$45,794; Outstanding capital $4,990,000 – The Noyes Cultural Arts Center is home to over 20 artists in residence and arts organizations offering music, theater and visual arts programs and studios
  • Special Recreation Programs – Net Cost:$256,640 – Serves children and adults with disabilities including fitness programs, sports programs, Special Olympics, after-school programs and summer camps
  • Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre – Net Cost:$163,890 – Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre (FJT) features productions highlighting the Black experience in America
  • Certificate of Rehabilitation Programs – Net Cost:$17,603 – Assists clients in receiving expungements, criminal records sealing and clemency. This program is partially funded by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
  • Recreation Center Bus Program – Net Cost:$129,662, Outstanding Capital $89,417 – Provides transportation for after school programs, summer camps, special recreation trips and programs, special events and Levy Senior membership drop-off and pick-up
  • Subsidized Taxicab Coupon program – Net Cost:$137,603 – Offers a low-cost taxicab service to income-eligible Evanston seniors over the age of 65 and residents with ambulatory disabilities who are registered for the Evanston Benefit Card
  • Special Assessment Alley Improvements – Net Cost:$168,280, Capital cost $250,000 – This involves the administration, design and construction oversight of the 50/50 special assessment alley program
  • Tree Preservation Permit Issuance and Enforcement – Net Cost:$36,109 – All excavations within 50′ of a public tree require issuance of a tree preservation permit
  • Bike Infrastructure Maintenance – Net Cost:$65,240 – Maintenance of existing bike lanes as well as associated assets to improve quality and safety
  • Best practice tree maintenance and replacement – Net Cost:$922,698 – Tree Trimming, Removal and Planting, and Evaluations
  • 50/50 Sidewalk Program – Net Cost:$114,662; Capital cost $175,000- This is the staff time/operations cost only for the management of the 50/50 sidewalk program, but there is an associated $175,000 annual Capital Improvement Program (CIP) cost
  • Special Refuse Pickups – Net Cost:$219,132 – The City of Evanston charges a fee for special pick-ups, which are defined as trash exceeding the capacity of your garbage cart plus one additional bag
  • Permits for Block Parties, Moving Vans and Dumpsters – Net Cost:$70,427 – Permits are logged for distribution to Police, Fire, and Parks. Public Works delivers barricades
  • Annual Dredging for Boat Launch and Harbor – Net Cost:$23,016 – Overseen by Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department (PRCS) and assisted by the Public Works Agency during the mechanical removal of sediment within the launch area
  • Twice-Annual Bulk Pick-ups – Net Cost:$172,856 – Free removal of up to six cubic yards of bulk garbage twice per year
  • Dutch Elm Disease Control – Net Cost:$261,873 – Control includes injections of all public elms once every 3 years, plus staff costs for scouting for disease symptoms and removal of diseased trees
  • Public Art Installation Support – Net Cost:$105,121 – Installation/placement and removal of art as well as their bases and foundations
  • Special Event Support – Net Cost:$108,580 – Traffic control is provided in the form of temporary no parking signs, message boards, cones and barricades
  • Athletic Field Maintenance and Programming – Net Cost:$280,790 – Maintenance provided by Public Works, rental and scheduling administered by PRCS Department

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Is the survey anonymous?
    Bill, is the survey anonymous? I know it doesn’t ask for names, but it would be curious to know if the city is collecting IP addresses for respondents.

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