Evanston aldemen will be asked Monday to approve plans to survey city residents about their views on scaling back or eliminating 54 city programs.

The targeted programs are ones that scored in the bottom half of a priority-based budgeting review by city staff of 152 programs. They range from Divvy bikes to the Noyes Cultural Arts Center and from special refuse pickups to the subsidized taxi cab coupon program.

The review comes as the city looks for ways to close an anticipated budget deficit for next year likely to total several million dollars.

The staff review programs on a 0 to 4 scale in 11 categories.

Those categories included whether the city is mandated to provide the service, whether the program recovers its own costs, whether demand for the service is increasing or decreasing, whether other entities could provide the service and how much of the community is served by the program.

The review also considered how much each program contributes to meeting six goals set by the city council. Those include investing in city infrastructure and facilities, enhancing community development and job creation, expanding affordable housing, furthering police-community relations initiatives, stabilizing long-term city finances and benefiting historiclaly underrepresented or disadvantaged populations.

Of the programs reviewed, the one scoring highest was administration of the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant program with 33 of a possible 44 points.

For the most part police and fire department programs scored high enough to not be included in the possible hit list for the public survey.

Twenty-four low-scoring progams were removed from the proposed survey list, CFO Hitesh Desai says in a memo to aldermen, because the city is required to provide them but they could be considered for higher fees or consolidation with other services.

Those ranged from tax payment programs to streetlight maintenance and snow and ice control.

Here’s a list of the programs proposed to be included in the community survey.

  • Administrative Services Department
    • Human Resources – Training
    • School Crossing Guards
  • Community Development Department
    • Business Licensing
    • Contractor Licensing
    • Divvy Bikes
    • Historic Preservation Review
    • Long-range planning (comprehensive plan, area plans)
    • Mental Health Board
    • Sign Permits and Inspection Services
    • Storefront Modernization Program
  • City Manager’s Office
    • Administrative Adjudication
    • Boards, commission, and committee administration by resolution/ordinance
    • Community Arts Administration
    • Revenue and Collections – Passport
    • Revenue and Collections – Real Estate Transfer Stamps
    • Revenue and Collections – Wheel Tax
    • Tax Assessment Advocacy
  • Fire Department
    • Public Education/Community Engagement
  • Health Department
    • Community Health
    • Social Services (Victim Advocacy)
    • Vacation Rental Permit and Administration (Airbnb)
    • Vital Records – Birth and Death Certificates
  • Police
    • Police Building maintenance
  • Parks Recreation and Community Services
    • Athletic programming
    • Certificate of Rehab Programs
    • City-Sponsored Special Events
    • Community Services/Youth Engagement
    • Cultural Arts Programs
    • Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater
    • Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center
    • Indoor/Outdoor Recreation Programs
    • Noyes Cultural Arts Center
    • Recreation Center Bus Program
    • Special Recreation Programs
    • Subsidized Taxi Cab Coupon program
    • Summer Camps
    • Summer Food Program/Child Nutrition Program/Congregate Meal Program
  • Public Works Agency
    • 50/50 Sidewalk Program
    • Annual Dredging for Boat Launch and Harbor
    • Bike Infrastructure Maintenance
    • Business District and Park Refuse Pickup and Disposal
    • Dutch Elm Disease Control
    • Engineering for Parks and Facilities Projects
    • Lakefront and Beach Maintenance and Cleaning
    • Permits for Block Parties, Moving Vans and Dumpsters
    • Playground Equipment Maintenance and Repairs
    • Public Art Installation Support
    • Special Assessment Alley Improvements
    • Special Event Support
    • Special Refuse Pickups
    • Sports Field Maintenance
    • Tree Preservation Permit Issuance and Enforcement
    • Tree Trimming, Removal and Planting, and Evaluations
    • Twice Annual Bulk Pickups

The staff memo proposing the survey does not include information on the cost of providing any of the programs.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why the cut backs?
    Why are we cutting back on these programs if they’re needed. Just raise the taxes again. I’m pretty sure most of us Evanstonians can afford it.

    1. As expected
      We are sure to get comments like this. Just keep everything and tax more and more [and make Evanston too expensive].
      Such authors are sure to live in gated communities where they have to see/associate with typical residents, have servants who drive them everywhere, inherited their money and never even look at their taxes.

    2. Wanting To Turn The Knife in
      Wanting To Turn The Knife in Deeper on Us,
      Huh City Council?

    3. Is this equitable??
      Programs and services need to be paid for. Its time people stop complaining and realize that socialism doesn’t work, especially when the money you have been spending runs out. Moving to Skokie or Wilmette is happening more and more.

      Eyes Open.

    4. >Revenue and Collections –
      >Revenue and Collections – Real Estate Transfer Stamps

      The real estate transfer tax doesn’t cover the cost of collection???
      If that’s the case then it’s a fairly easy decision to cut it out.
      It’ll make Evanston more attractive for home buyers.

  2. More information needed
    The above list is a good start, but a series of follow up articles providing a summary of what each of the above units does would be extremely helpful. Providing names alone can result in snap judgments based on simple prejudice.

    Example – Revenue and Collections – Passport… What the heck is that? Is Evanston now issuing passports?

    1. More

      Hi John,

      I’m hoping the city will provide some of that information as part of its upcoming survey.

      We’ll see what Evanston Now can do along that line as well … but providing a complete explanation for more than 50 program before the scheduled May 10 launch of the survey may not be feasible.

      As for accepting passport applications, the city has provided that service at various times in recent years — but not right at the moment

      — Bill

  3. Permits are programs?

    I don’t get it some of the items on the list are permits and fee based … shouldn’t these pay for themselves?

    1. Fees
      … don’t always cover the cost of providing the service.

      They can be changed, but, in some cases, folks will argue that the service should be subsidized by general tax revenue.

      — Bill

  4. Put Bobkiewicz on Chopping Block
    Bobkiewicz has done more harm to Evanston than Madigan is to Illinois. Bobkiewicz drove most competent workers from city hall and gave the good jobs to his minions. The city is now running out of money and city services are egregious.

    1. Say it again
      Thank you again, Mr. Sutter, for being the Voice of Reason. It’s too bad that other people are not listening. Changes CAN be made!…Good luck to you.

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