Evanston’s budget for 2012 projects spending for the coming year up nearly 32 percent from five years ago.
Meanwhile new figures from the federal government show that median household incomes have continued to decline nationwide — down nearly 10 percent since the start of the recession in 2007.
The new city budget, unveiled late Friday by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, calls for spending a total of $218 million in 2012, compared to $166 million five years ago, during fiscal year 2007-08.
The new budget showes a decrease in general fund spending, to $72 million from $80 million.
But that decrease has been achieved largely by shifting a variety of city operations into other, specialized funds that didn’t exist five years ago.
Meanwhile, spending for other existing funds has increased dramatically.
- The insurance fund has increased 400 percent — from $3.3 million to $16.7 million.
- The water fund has increased 65 percent — from $9.7 million to $16.1 million.
- The sewer fund has increased 30 percent — from $15.8 million to $20.4 million.
- The debt service fund has increased 32 percent — from $9.9 million to $13.1 million.
- The fire pension fund has increased 24 percent — from $5.7 million to $7.1 million.
- The police pension fund has increased 29 percent — from $6.9 million to $8.9 million.
And the capital improvement fund, which wasn’t separately stated in the budget five years ago, now is budgeted at $13.3 million.
One plus for local taxpayers — the Neighborhood Stabilization fund — budgeted at $7.1 million for 2012 — is part of a three-year, $18 million federal grant that isn’t adding to the local tax burden.
The City Council has scheduled a special meeting on the budget for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Civic Center.
Has the city government lost all contact with reality?
Maybe it is time to have a protest in Evanston like the "Wall Street Protest." Maybe if a few thousand people set up camp at city hall, the Council will finally get the message. They seem to be like the mule the farmer said needed to have a board across his head to get his attention. Seems like Evanston government is in the same condition as the mule.
We are past 'reforms' and budget gimmicks and endless discussion [with no action]. No matter how 'nice' some of these things seem, many of them will have to go until spending and taxes get cut to where we are again a viable town.
Sounds like a recall campaign for the mayor and Council is a good place to start. We need to get in some officials in touch with reality and understanding business/economics rather than the fuzzy headed thinking of the 60s.
Wilmette NorthShore Hospital? NU of Wilmette ?
Maybe its time to start considering moving some property to Wilmette. Maybe everything from Noyes north and McCormick east. What about NU ? Well politicians like to gerrymander their districts, so why not include NU and maybe everything east of Chicago Ave. to South Blvd. ?
Since the Council does not want to get their house in order, maybe Wilmette would like to expand their base to include these "former" Evanston properties. Of course once the Council brings the city to its knees [either through taxes, mass exodus or bankruptcy, Wilmette could get the city even cheaper.
People are already 'mailing in the keys' because of the mortgage crisis, so they might just send them to the Council as they leave for a better business and tax environment in a responsible government town. It is not a question of 'if' but 'when.'
And this is where the city community budget project has fallen down, with an overall city budget at over $200 million a year there should be more discussion about these separate funds and how they are distributed, rather than only discussing the $80 million in the general fund.
If the money going into these separate funds aren't changeable, like the legal obligation to fund the pensions, I understand the room for debate is small, but the fact that these issues aren't fully discussed in the budget process has been sad. If any amount is changeable, we should be having a debate as members of the Evanston community.
I hope the Evanston city staff and our elected officials open the budget process into an open perpetual review, rather than having these "budget seasons" that are limited in both time and content.
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