Two-and-a-half years after winning election, Evanston City Council members Saturday morning finally voted to adopt a set of six top-level goals for what’s left of their four-year terms.

They indicated that they favor focusing on:

  • Economic development
  • Implementing the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan
  • Public Safety
  • Finance
  • Affordable housing
  • Public health

The council had narrowed its goal list from 10 to six over the course of two meetings in December and January, but had yet to formally adopt the goal list.

The move to at least adopt the top-level goals was pushed by Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) after Ald. Devon Reid (8th) pressed instead to consider other possible top-level goals, including the city’s infrastructure issues.

But the council members still failed to fully agree on more specific goals for any of those areas other than climate action.

Nieuwsma argued that the CARP plan already contains a set of goals the council reviews each year.

The council voted to refer the issue of more specific goals for the other five topic areas to various committees for further consideration.

Mayor Daniel Biss with Ald. Clare Kelly (1st).

Mayor Daniel Biss said he hoped the committees would report back in time for a full City Council vote on the goals in December.

“I think it’s insane,” Biss said, to wait to adopt the more detailed goals until 2024.

Among the nearly 20 proposed more-specific goals suggested by city staff that now will be handed off to the committees:

  • Economic Development: Implement “Evanston Thrives” recommendations already approved by Council. (Economic Development Committee.)
  • Public Safety: Fill 95% of sworn police officer positions by the end of next year. City Manager Luke Stowe said that, after dropping to about 87% filled following defund the police protests, the staffing level is back up to about 90% now. (Human Services Committee)
  • Finance: Increase the minimum general fund reserve balance target from 16.66% to 20% by 2025. (Finance and Budget Committee)
  • Affordable Housing: Rewrite the inclusionary housing ordinance to increase the required proportion of affordable units in market rate developments from the current 10% to 15% or 20%. (Housing and Community Development Committee)
  • Public Health: Expand the city’s guaranteed income pilot program. (Human Services Committee)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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