Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he plans to conduct a detailed review of the 60 to 70 services the city now provides residents to help decide how to trim the city’s spending.

Bobkiewicz, speaking at a community meeting on the budget Thursday night, said the review would culminate in preparation of a one-page worksheet on each service.

The sheet would indicate how much the service costs and how much revenue it raises, whether the city is required by law to provide the service and whether the demand for the service has changed in recent years.

He said it will also consider whether other entities could provide the service and whether it offers opportunities for innovation in the way services are delivered.

He then hopes to be able to come up with numerical rankings for each service on several scales.

That’s just one part of the planned budget review, which will also include an examination of how ten other similar communities around the country are handling their budget problems and possibly an interactive tool to let residents say how they’d choose to allocate funds among different priorities.

Bobkiewicz said one goal is to help make policy decisions on a more informed basis.

As an example, he said, the city might decide that all youth recreation programs should be subsidized by tax dollars to some extent, but that all adult recreation programs should pay for themselves.

Residents at the meeting offered a wide variety of suggestions.

Carl Bova, of 1322 Rosalie St., said the city has been making good strides in understanding its long term debt problem. He suggested the city needs to develop a 100-year plan for funding roads, street lights and water and sewer facilities.

Kevin O’Connor of 1227-1/2 Isabella St. said the city should seriously consider bankrupcty as a way to get out from under its debts, and he called on aldermen to confess their budgetary sins of the past that he blamed for getting the city into its fiscal problems.

Mike Vasilko of 2728 Reese Ave. said the city should get local state lawmakers to a budget meeting to talk frankly about the problems state-mandated pension programs are causing the city.

Kate Mahoney, of 2538 Gross Point Road, said the city should place a high priority on mental health and other human services programs.

And Peggy Nelson, who said she lives in Glencoe but is considering moving to Evanston, praised the city arts programs that her daughter participates in. She said she believes they contribute substantially to the economic vitality of Evanston because she frequently shops at local businesses while her daughter is in classes at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

Related document

City manager’s budget presentation -May 5, 2011 (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Being even greener

    Denver Water Laws from:

    Q. Why can't Denver Water customers reuse their own graywater for outdoor use?

    A. Colorado water law allows each customer just one use of water before it goes down the drain, through a wastewater treatment plant and back into the river for others to use. By law, Denver Water customers are not allowed to use bath or laundry water (commonly referred to as graywater) for other purposes. After this water is used once by Denver Water customers, it must return to the South Platte River where it will be used seven or eight times before it gets to Nebraska. Denver Water does not endorse graywater systems.

    Q. Can I collect rainwater?

    A. Capturing rainwater is an ongoing issue in Colorado, and it is not allowed if it will injure vested water rights. For the most part, Colorado law does not allow Denver Water customers to collect rainwater.

    In 2009, however, the Colorado State Legislature passed two laws that carve out exemptions from the general rule.

    The first law says that if you are not served by a domestic water system, such as Denver Water, and you are located in a designated ground water basin or your collection system qualifies as exempt from 37-92-602(1)(g)(I), you are allowed to capture rainwater for household, fire protection, stock watering and irrigation of up to one acre of lawns and gardens as long as it is applied to uses specified in the well permit that applies to your property.

    The second law allows the state to participate in a study of 10 new developments to determine the impact of capturing rainwater on streams, rivers and tributary groundwater.

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