With just a week left before scheduled final adoption of Evanston’s 2008-09 budget, aldermen have managed to cut less than $600,000 from a proposed $17 million spending increase.

The city manager’s proposed budget would have increased total spending by 10.3 percent to $183 million. With the cuts so far, the increase would be 9.9 percent.

The biggest budget increase, just over $8 million, goes to public safety pensions.

But even after the aldermen’s cuts, the general fund budget is scheduled to rise by nearly $3.5 million.

And there are increases of $2 million in the sherman Avenue Garage Fund, $1.6 million in the sewer fund and nearly $1 million in the fleet services fund.

Appropriations to other funds increase or decrease by mostly smaller amounts.

The aldermen have managed to reduce the projected property tax levy increase from just over 15 percent to a shade under 10 percent — but most of that reduction has been accomplished by adding other new taxes and fees.

Despite much concern about possible elimination of city jobs, the aldermen so far have cut only two positions, beyond reductions initially proposed in the city manager’s budget. And both of those jobs are currently vacant.

The aldermen have scheduled another budget meeting for 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23; and they’re scheduled to adopt the final budget on Monday, Feb. 25.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. Clueless
    What are the alderman thinking? I know that several alderman are repeating this mantra: just tell us what to cut.

    Here’s my suggestion: eliminate the $9 million increase that is not going to the pensions. Then cut, including staff positions, even more.

    We need to start living within our means. We need the money for the pensions.

  2. What a mess!
    The majority of taxpayers here deserve to continue to pay the high taxes, we continue to get here. Few if any bother to come to the budget hearings.
    The reality is this is not sustainable – the council can not keep on doing this – this year may be the end – next year and the year after will be very interesting.
    When people get their new tax bills with the new assessed values then they might be more upset. time will tell.

  3. Amen to both of the previous
    Amen to both of the previous posters. I wholeheartedly agree that this is not sustainable and that we need to live within our means. City jobs need to be cut. And lots of ’em. Raising property taxes in this real estate market and other taxes in this economy is simply inexcusable. I can’t wait to move out of Evanston in the next couple of years.

  4. Whose fault?
    The unfortunate thing is the taxes buy us nothing but incompetent, surly civic employees who provide poor services. We have the government we deserve. Until we decide to get involved, and that includes me, we will be taxed to the hilt for nothing.

    The city council (small letters intended) has no backbone. They can’t discriminate between essential and nonessential services. They are too busy satisfying all their constituents. Yes, they and their cohorts in city hall all need to be replaced.

    Personally, I did get involved, albeit briefly, and couldn’t stand the tyrannical climate of city council meetings. It’s just easier, and a whole lot more pleasant to sell and move out of this town, which we are planning to do. Blame myself for poor research before we moved in. Expensive lesson!

    1. Movin’ Out
      Yes, I am in the same boat. I too have learned an expensive lesson. I am greatly disappointed in Evanston. I try to tell myself that it’s going to be more of the same anywhere I move, but I know that’s not true.

      There have to be other communities, towns and cities that care enough about their residents to actually discuss the issues affecting their quality of life. There have to be places out there that discuss their budget as opposed to wasting time and money to take a stand on Immigration of all things.

      There have to be places that care more about their local residents than posturing on national and international issues.

      Extremism is an extraordinarily ugly thing, whether it be Bush and Rove or the City of Evanston left unchecked. Where are the checks and balances to their “good intentions” that will bring us to ruin?

      I will watch the local elections with great interest to see if I am not alone in my unending frustration. Perhaps locally we will have our own kind of CHANGE.

      And perhaps not.

  5. very clueless
    Good suggestions but what positions do exactly propose that they cut? It’s funny to see all the comments on how staff should be cut more. I can imagine how much people would be complaining if they were shorted the services currently being provided by those who are cut. Since the closing of the clinic last year, the complaints pour in about lack of those services. So please, take a stab at it and let them know what they should cut. In all honesty pretty soon the city will have no employees left with all the forced retirement, the increasing workload being put on remaining employees and not to mention the complete lack of job security (since every year employees spend months wondering if they will even have a job come march). psh the grass is always greener on the other side.

    1. What real services did the clinic provide?
      Please explain to me what real services the clinic provide to people?
      Are you a city employee since you seem to be aware of the complaints.

      Also you made a statement about forced retirements it was my understanding employees have been offer incentives to leave?

      What is your position on the sustainability coordinator and the new fire planner reviewer postion? I have posted on both that they are not needed. There is plenty more by the way – I am not talking about laying off forestry workers or maintenance employees but fluff positions the city council has created over the years that few other city the size of Evanston have.

      I do not believe in percentage cutting of people – the council does not have a clue how to run a city. There are positions here that can be cut – I also do not agree at all with Ms.Carrol’s approach to a 3 year plan to cut – cuts need to be done in one year – then move on. I think the council and Ms Carrol are creating an enviroment of stress on the employees by there poor judgements.

      As Bill Smith pointed out here the city has only cut two employees this year so far – so how will the number of city employees decrease to zero?

      I doubt anyone who is posting here believes that city government should be completely eliminated – just run better!

      1. Downsize
        “I doubt anyone who is posting here believes that city government should be completely eliminated – just run better!”

        Well, not completely eliminated. Just greatly downsized.

  6. Spend spend spend
    How much does that nature center cost the taxpayers? How much potential income is the City losing by not renting out the building that the Evanston Art Center occupies? How much potential income is the City losing by not renting out the building that the Cultural Arts Center occupies? How much does the Levy Center cost us? How much income has been lost because the retail space at the Maple Street garage wasn’t rented for 7 years? (And why is that? Incompetency at it’s finest; they didn’t even try to market the space!) Why was the children’s section remodeled at the library? A complete waste of cash; there was nothing wrong with the previous arrangement. Etc. etc. etc.

    This year there was a salt shortage. I say hooray! Yippee! Hooray! We saved some money in spite of them! And the streets were just fine.

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