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Recap: Administration and Public Works Committee

Here's a recap of our live coverage of this afternoon's meeting of the Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee.

Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this afternoon’s meeting of the Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 4:43 p.m.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) chairs. Also present in person Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) and Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th). Ald. Devon Reid (8th) initially participated remotely and then arrived in person.

Minutes approved.

Public Comment

Jacob Isaacson voices concern about lack of dog parks.

Consent agenda

Items removed: A2, A5, A7.

Consent agenda, except for those items is approved.

A2 – 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

Auditing firm reports city received “clean opinion” — the best assessment the accountants can provide of the city’s financial reporting:

“In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the governmental activities, the business-type activities, the discretely presented component unit, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of the City of Evanston, Illinois, as of December 31, 2020, and the respective changes in financial position, and, where applicable, cash flows thereof for the year ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

Says overall the city was better off financially at the end of 2020 than it had been at the end of 2019.

Says the city ended the year with a general fund balance at the target of 16.6% of a full year’s spending. (Because of the pandemic, there had been fears that the city might end the year considerably short of that target.)

However, the parking fund showed a loss, before fund transfers out, of more than $1 million.

Pension funds did well on their investments during the 2019 year, the period reported in the CAFR.

Nieuwsma asks whether city should have a “rainy day fund.”

Auditor says generally speaking, to give City Council flexibility, it’s best to keep a reserve in the general fund. Says very few municipalities have a “rainy day fund.”

Action to accept the report and place it on file — approved unanimouslyh.

A5 – Groot commercial hauling contract extension

Reid says he’s happy with responses from Groot about performance. “Can start moving in the right direction.” Wants to have further discussion when the contract next comes up for renewal.

Says because the item was held last time at City Council, there was no need for a vote on it in Committee tonight.

A7 – General obligation bond issue for 2021

City Manager Erika Storlie says in the past the City Council has tended to borrow for all of its capital improvement needs. Says with the infusion of federal pandemic aid, the city may have the option of funding some capital improvements from current cash revenue.

Says would be beneficial to reduce the city’s overall level of debt.

Amount to be borrowed was approved in the 2021 budget adopted last fall.

CFO Hitesh Desai says the anticipated bond amount is $14.3 million. Debt service about $1.24 million. True interest cost estimated at 1.73%

Storlie says its possible that the city could use ARPA money to fund next year’s capital projects, but doesn’t want to presume what the Council wanted to do for this year’s borrowing.

Kelly claims the city “is mortgaging to get its lawn care done.” Storlie says city has failed to maintain certain assets, such as sidewalks — allowing them to decay.

Says city’s capital plan has $400M in unfunded expenses. Says its facing a challenge that’s more than 150 years in the making.

Kelly says she’d like to hold the issue at Council.

The vote to introduce the bond ordinance is 4-0.

Reid moves to reconsider the consent agenda. Kelly seconds. Motion carries 3-1.

Reid moves to remove the payroll and bills (A1) from the consent agenda.

That is approved 4-0.

Reid moves to $3,185 invoice for work done by a consultant to the clerk’s office during Reid’s term as clerk which had not been authorized.

Seconded by Kelly

Approved 3-0 with Nieuwsma voting no.

Meeting adjourned at 6:10 p.m.

City Council to start at 6:15 p.m.

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