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Ecology Center off the cut list

Evanston aldermen, in straw votes on budget issues today, signaled that they only want to make about two-thirds of the $1.5 million in additional budget cuts proposed by the city manager as a cushion to build the city’s reserve fund.

Here’s how the aldermen responded to the proposed cuts. They:

Evanston aldermen, in straw votes on budget issues today, signaled that they only want to make about two-thirds of the $1.5 million in additional budget cuts proposed by the city manager as a cushion to build the city’s reserve fund.

Here’s how the aldermen responded to the proposed cuts. They:

* Rejected closing the Ecology Center to save $200,000. Several speakers at the budget workshop had urged saving that program.

* Accepted cutting one of two program manager positions at the Levy Senior Center, but rejected ending the center’s senior shuttle bus program. Both cuts combined would have saved $150,000.

* Rejected cutting the theater program manager position at the Fleetwook-Jourdain Center to save $72,000. But accepted eliminating a part-time clerk’s position there to save $32,000.

* Rejected eliminating a facilities management position to save $70,000. Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said facilities already has too large a backlog of work requests.

* Accepted the idea of saving $30,000 on overtime costs for cleanup after 4th of July festivities. Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, and other aldermen voiced hopes participants can be encouraged to clean up after themselves.

* Rejected eliminating the remaining $70,000 of police overtime proposed for the department’s "summer plan," but appeared to accept saving $30,000 by reducing police overtime on the 4th of July.

* Accepted a proposed reduction in custodial services at the Crown Recreation Center, suggesting patrons could be encouraged to clean up after themselves. Possible savings here total $50,000.

The aldermen raised no objections to a range of other departmental cutbacks including eliminating three jobs in the forestry unit to save $150,000; making $40,000 in cuts at the main library, and trimming $50,000 from Community Development and $50,000 from Administrative Services.

They also raised no objection to $440,000 in city-wide cuts including increasing the employee contribution to health care costs by 5 percent, reducing the salary of all managers by 5 percent, forcing all city workers to take an additional unpaid holiday and trimming the cell phone stipend for city workers.

None of the decisions made today are final, and as Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, cautioning Ecology Center supporters against over-confidence, "it’s not over ’til it’s over."

The next scheduled meeting on the budget is a public hearing set for 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1.

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