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Despite arguments from supporters of the city’s employee unions that they should halt all privatization efforts, Evanston aldermen this week appeared to support plans for more spending cuts to balance the city’s 2012 budget.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and other top officials reviewed for the City Council Monday night about 40 ideas for reorganizing city services that were developed from a community input process earlier this year.

Most of the suggestions don’t yet have dollar figures attached, but those that do add up to about $4 million, through a combination of spending reductions and new revenue.

Based on current budget projections, the city needs to trim its spending by several million dollars in 2012, and several million more in 2013 to balance spending with declining revenues.

During public comment at the meeting, union supporters, who’ve been advertising a petition drive against outsourcing in a local newspaper, argued that in the long run it costs the city less to keep providing services in house, rather than contracting them out to the private sector.

One speaker, Linda Balla, an employee at the city’s library, said the private contractor providing overnight custodial services at the library “doesn’t seem to care,” and its sloppy work has created a terrible mouse problem at the library.

Ted Loda, a former local AFSCME union negotiator, noted that the union has represented Evanston workers for decades and said the city can’t afford to privatize more services.

Bobkiewicz has argued for a cautious approach to privatization — trying to make sure that any contracting out of services actually saves the city money and provides a quality level of service.

The aldermen took no formal vote on any of the proposals, many of which do not involve privatization — but directed the city manager to keep moving ahead on them in preparing the budget that he’s to submit to the council in early October.

“I think you’re on the right track,” said Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward. “This is a huge help.”

The only change in direction was that one idea Bobkiewicz said he had decided not to pursue — that of increasing the options for selling liquor at city facilities — was put back on the list, at the suggestion of several aldermen.

Top: Ted Loda speaks to aldermen about privatization.

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Council to get ideas for $4M in budget savings

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. Buttons and labels

    As for the mouse problem at the library, what do we expect when our city forces cats to be on leashes?  Cats   need to go around chasing mice and keeping rabbits out of gardens.  Since cats have naturally enquiring minds, it seems that the library would be a nice place for some cats to live.

    But  Ted and Linda are right, privatization is a scam.  And it won't give us smaller government – it will probably give corporations and incentive to push for larger government.  (Privatization of defense has created a 'war lobby' in Washington, privatization of prison services helps fuel the 'tough on crime' lobby to lock up nonviolent offenders.)

    But Ted…please don't wear a little sticky label on your shirt.  Labels and yard signs are tactics used by the tower haters, branch library lovers, and others with bad agendas.

  2. Privatize, privatize, privatize!

    Privatization is absolutely the best way to go for many reasons.

    A primary reason would be the elimination of government corruption. When employee matters are in the hands of the private sector, unions can't donate to and elect politicians who then negotiate union contracts or make policy decisions that benefit unions at the expense of taxpayers.

    This is why Ted Loda and other Evanston union chiefs oppose privatization. As we have seen in our own backyard, public unions in Evanston keep getting pay raises, overtime pay and sweetheart deals.

    The City Council just voted to give the Police Sergeants Union a 3 percent pay raise that might go even higher if three other unions negotiate a BETTER deal this year! And you thought we were in a recession.

    Last year, Evanston laid off three firefighters for the first time in decades but then the Evanston Fire Union filed a lawsuit against the city for unfair labor practices. The city agreed to rehire the firefighters and let a third party arbitrator decide any future layoffs!! That's a bad deal for Evanstonians. The unions got that sweetheart deal by simply filing a lawsuit against the city, and dealing with politicians they supported in elections. And guess what, the Evanston Fire Department is recruiting more firefighters!

    How did this happen? Well, consider that you have aldermen on the City Council that received campaign donations from these very same public unions. The mayor, who got the Evanston Firefighter union endorsement and a campaign donation in the 2009 mayoral election, appointed the president of the city employees union on a budget task force, designed to make budget cut recommendations. 

    Privatize ambulance, garbage services and recycling services. Close down one of the two fire stations on Central Street, layoff at least three firefighters and hash out a tri-city fire service agreement with Wilmette, Skokie. It's a no brainer and should have been done way back in 2008.

    Another good reason to privatize – less pension and insurance costs. Let private companies pay for union pay raises, overtime pay, pension benefits and so on. Labor costs is THE single largest expenditure in our budget. Cuts must start there.

    The power is also in the hands of people. We can vote against candidate who has public union support. 

  3. Why cut the budget? Just raise taxes!

    Why ask the city to run more effectively, efficiently, and be less costly? Just raise taxes.

  4. Good Start – this year for the process

    The cuts and the spending do not quite add up.  

    Wally admitted many of the ideas will take time, thus they will not work this year.  Also a very large piece of what was documented as cuts was coming out of the Recreation Department -well over half, it is not likely council members are going to push for large fee increases or cut many programs even it they are not funded.

    Wally might get $500,000 out of real cuts, Fee increase such as the $500,000 on rental property may meet resistance, also why should we keep all the inspectors just to raise fees

    In some case thing I just not logical, or confused.   Wally is promising no layoffs in Police and Fire, yet he ask them to cut their operating fund 3 percent, given they did this before I find it unlikely they can come up with an additional 3%.  On these large budget the cuts would be close to $500,000. there isn't that much to cut.ohter than to layoff employees.

     

    Wally is not too clear on raises – keeping raises at 0% would probably get close to the 2 million he needs but he is not clear on that issue. 

    In order to get his budget he will have to cut, layoff employees and hold raise down. Given the pension funds are going south, he will use any property tax increase to help those.  Also I think water sales are down well over 1 millions dollars which is another hole he must fill with a increase in water rates or taxes.  Given if he raise water more they many be less use. Thus even lower revenues.

     

     

  5. Privatize, privatize, privatize!

    Thank you your comments! It is very refreshing to think we will have new politicians next election that are not owned by the unions.

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