Unless it looks like there are layoffs ahead, it’s hard to get Evanstonians interested in the city budget.
So, with the city’s financial picture looking fairly good for next year, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz tried going high-tech Wednesday night with a “Multimedia Community Budget Workshop.”
Aired from a conference room on what the manager euphemistically referred to as “the garden level” of the Civic Center, Bobkiewicz was teamed on the show with Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons as city department heads put in guest appearances to talk about their programs.
Since the odds are strong you weren’t there — here are some highlights.
Police Chief Richard Eddington said he’s working with Northwestern University’s police department to develop a cost-effective strategy for deploying police body cameras in Evanston.
Eddington says NU has much more experience with camera surveillance technology — operating 1,500 fixed-position cameras around campus compared to about 25 such cameras operated by the city.
Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons showed off one of the new wi-fi hotspots residents can borrow from the library — a program she hopes to expand next year — and said she’s looking forward to having a library branch in the planned new Robert Crown Center.
Community Development Director Mark Muenzer said he’s looking to develop a three-prong approach to using the city’s affordable housing funds — offering short-term housing through a voucher-type program, medium-term assistance through leased space in existing buidings and a long term “sticks and bricks” solution that would see more new construction like the Emerson Square development.
Lyons said the city’s revenue from parking tickets is down — but its revenue from parking meter fees has increased — both an expected outcome, he said, of the switch to parking meters that make it more convenient for parkers to pay by accepting credit cards.