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Recap: Administration & Public Works Committee

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

Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday 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 4:35 p.m.

Members Kelly, Braithwaite, Nieuwsma, Burns and Reid present.

Consent agenda

Off consent — A2, A5. With those items removed. Consent agenda is approved. (Item A5, water treatment chemicals, is being held, so it won’t be discussed tonight.)

A2 – Teska Associates contract for consulting services for the Evanston skate park.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) asks about preference for some residents for a “design-build” process for the project.

Lara Biggs, city engineer, says design-build is a process under which a single team does the design and construction of projects. Says it’s appropriate for some projects, not for others. Says it can compress a construction schedule — but isn’t so good if you don’t know exactly what you want to build at the start — because that can lead to construction cost increases.

Biggs says it would short circuit the public engagement process if used a design-build process for the skate park.

Kelly says she wants a subcommittee of A&PW formed to oversee the project.

Nieuwsma says skater folks he had talked to are happy with the process proposed by city staff. Says there’s a skate-specialist contractor involved as a subcontractor for the design contract.

Biggs says are considering a request for qualifications for contractors to build the park, or do a request for proposals process for hiring the contractor.

Burns says he wouldn’t support having a subcommittee of A&PW, but supports the idea Biggs mentioned that there typically are two aldermen involved in a “strategic advisory committee” for a project like this. typically would also have a representative of the neighborhood and the skater community.

Burns describe it as a “stakeholder group” from the community.

Contract approved 5-0.

Public Comment

Nobody present to speak.

A-8 Allocating $850,000 in ARPA Funding to 2021 Equipment Replacement

Hitesh Desai, CFO, says purchases were approved by the City Council last fall as part of the 2021 budget process.

Original plans was to issue bonds for the purchases, but after the city learned that ARPA money would be available, the staff decided to reduce the bonding amount and pay cash for the purchase of the vehicles.

The proposed action now is just to transfer ARPA funds into the vehicle equipment fund to repay the purchase cost.

Resolution approved 5-0.

A9 – TIF resolution
No vote needed here. Had been introduced at a previous meeting and appeared by mistake on this agenda.

A10 – Intergovernmental agreement re Five-Fifths TIF with District 65
Kelly says city shouldn’t be mandating what a school district has to do. (Doesn’t mention that the school district is in turn telling the city what to do.)

Burns says the district has already publicly committed to building a school in the 5th Ward.

Kelly claims the agreement requires the district to build a 5th Ward school. In fact it only calls for “a good faith effort” to build such a school. Burns says that gives them flexibility.

Nieuwsma says it looks non-binding to him. Says by the same token the school district is getting up in the city’s business. Says not their job to weigh in on economic development or affordable housing.

Says he’s a little uncomfortable with the IGA for that reason, but wanted the city and schools to come together on something that’s really important to the community. Says the process has played out, IGA has been negotiated, and done in good faith.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) says he’s a huge fan of tax increment financing districts for economic development.

Kelly claims process was rushed.

Burns says both sides had been working on the agreement before it was tabled and now an agreement has been reached.

Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says for affordable housing the state code sets the limit for what’s “affordable” as 80% of area median income, for a project that can get financial support from the TIF.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says Council could change its ordinance, and the state statute provides more protection.

Resolution approved 4-1. Kelly votes no.

A11 – Sale of former north branch library site.

Ordinance introduced on a 5-0 vote.

A12 – Sale of surplus fleet equipment

Ordinance introduced on a 5-0 vote.

A13 – Reduction of sewer rates

Nieuwsma says great that offering a discount rate to low-income customers. Asks how that will work for residents who don’t directly pay their water bill.

Dave Stoneback, public works director, says people will have to submit letter from CEDA that they’re been accepted into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Says the program is available for electric and natural gas utilities.

Says about 600 Evanston residents are already eligible for the program. Says CEDA has been unwilling to just share its list with the city.

New affordable rate would be $1.94 per billing unit versus new regular rate of $3.08.

Stoneback says for people not getting the low-income rate, the overall impact of the sewer rate reduction and water rate increase (the next item on the agenda) will be a 2% rate increase — the first in several years.

Ordinance approved for introduction 5-0.

A14 – Increase of water rates

Ordinance approved for introduction 5-0.

Meeting adjourned at 5:36 p.m.

Planning and Development Committee meeting to start at 5:40 p.m.

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