Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday’s meeting of the Evanston City Council’s Administration and Public Works Committee.
The meeting is scheduled to begin 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.
Off consent: A1, A3, A4, A5, A14.
Consent agenda approved.
A1 – Payroll and Bills
Tabled for the moment.
A3 – Fire Station 4 emergency roof improvements change order
Lara Biggs, city engineer, says extension is a result of delay in delivery of windows for the project.
A4 – Noyes Cultural Arts Center HVAC Feasibility Study
Biggs says the heating is failing and there’s no way to get replacement parts. Says the study is designed to determine the best way to replace the system.
Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) asks why not just get bids for the replacement.
Biggs says the issue is not very straightforward and needs consultant to determine the best solution. Says at this point the city doesn’t even have architectural drawings for the (more than century-old) building.
Braithwaite says the possibility of selling Noyes has been discussed for some time and this seems to be very expensive.
Biggs says it’s up to Council to decide whether to sell the building.
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says she’s concerned about the $185K cost of the study.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says he supports the proposal, assuming the consultant will be looking at an all-electric option for the building — with would help meeting the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan goals.
Acting Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback says asking for bids on the full project would create much more risk that the system provided won’t actually work.
Approved 3-2. Kelly and Braithwaite vote no.
A5 – Parking garage structural repairs contract
A14 – Municipal Operations Zero Emissions Strategy
Cara Pratt, sustainability and resilience coordinator, says both the Environmental Board and Utilities Commission recommend the most aggressive “transformative change” approach.
Says there are a variety of funding options to pay for the improvements.
Nieuwsma says in the long run the improvements will pay for themselves.
Pratt says goal would be to pursue projects that would have a strong return on investment.
Pratt says city buildings and city fleet about about 1% of the entire carbon footprint for all city residents and businesses.
Kelly says she’s concerned about a $70 million cost when its only 1% of total emissions.
Nieuwsma responds that it will pay back the cost in future energy expenses.
Says are just approving the target tonight — not actual expenses. Those decisions will come in the years to come.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says he’s fully supportive of the plan.
Vote to accept report and place on file is unanimous.
A1 – Payroll and Bills
Prolonged discussion of minor questions raised about bills list.
A15 – Noyes Center lease renewal
A16 – Grant application for RAISE funds
A17 – Appointing HR Manager Megan Fulara as agent for IMRF
A18 & A19 – Special Assessments
A20 – Changes to Public Safety Commission rules
Approved (with technical amendments correcting typographical errors).
Police Chief Richard Eddington says the changes would shorten service time an officer would need for a lateral transfer — from two years to completion of the probationary period, which is typically one year to 18 months.
Says there will be interviews and various screening measures to make sure the new hires are appropriately qualified.
Eddington says the department is short 24 officers (not including two resignations and one retirement now pending). Says the lateral transfers are the only option to bring more officers on the force by the summer months, when the need for officers tends to be highest.
Says the (relatively) new state pension plan for police makes pensions portable — and will require reassessment of whether the city is offering competitive salaries to reduce the chance other departments will “pirate” officers from Evanston.
Items for discussion
APW1 – Discussion of resuming water shutoffs for nonpayment
Darrell King, water production bureau chief, says Chicago and Detroit are not currently doing shutoffs. Describes discount programs in Chicago and Detroit. San Antonia and Seattle are doing shutoffs.
Reid says he wants to know the difference in payment rates when the other cities did or did not perform shutoffs.
King says there are about 250 residential customers on the shutoff list now. And when they get a letter from the city threatening to cut off their water about 80% pay up.
Law department says it would take about four hours per customer to prepare lien documents if the city were to place liens against properties rather than shutting off water service.
Reid questions whether that time estimate is accurate.
Says cost of shutoffs is also high.
Nieuwsma says cost of shutoffs is $58 per shutoff. Says by his analysis sticking with current approach does make financial sense.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says he’d like to see how using liens has worked out in other cities.
APW2 – Lead service line replacement workforce development program
Stoneback says program would hire a half dozen apprentices at a cost of $186,000.
Also requires about $1 million purchase equipment for the program, which he recommends to be funding from ARPA.
Seeks committee approval to put together formal proposal for the program to be approved by City Council.
Burns says the work will continue for 30 years — great opportunity to increase employment for local residents. Thanks staff for developing the program.
Stoneback says the lead service line replacement program will require a 9% water rate increase next year.
Meeting adjourned at 6:31 p.m.
City Council meeting to start at 6:35 p.m.