Evanston City Council members Monday evening are scheduled to review plans for $64.3 million in capital improvement projects proposed as part of next year’s city budget.
About a quarter of the projects, or $16.2 million, are proposed to be funded by general obligation bonds to be paid off over time from property tax revenue.
Most of the rest are funded by bonds issued for special funds that have their own dedicated revenue source for repayment. These include the water and sewer funds and the parking fund.
The remainder are funded by state and federal grants, tax-increment finance district revenue, private donations and other sources.
In a memo to the Council, City Engineer Lara Biggs says the amount of general obligation bond debt required to fund capital projects “is of particular concern” and that “the needs far outweigh the available funding.”
She also notes that outside grants and loans are most available for streets, transportation and water and sewer projects — but only rarely for parks projects and hardly ever for facilities projects.
As a result, Biggs says, “these types of projects have been chronically underfunded in the last 20 years” leading to “an increasing number of infrastructure failures.”
“Without a substantial increase in funding,” she adds, “this trend is likely to continue and accelerate.”
A decade ago then city manager Wally Bobkiewicz proposed that the city sell or find new revenue-producing uses for some facilities to reduce the burden on taxpayers of maintaining them.
But with the exception of finding a new lessee for the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion, after a multi-year battle over its future, little has been accomplished to reduce the cost to taxpayers of maintaining city facilities.
The City Council meeting on budget issues is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.