Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting was called to order at 6:15 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Mayor Steve Hagerty is absent tonight. Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, is serving as mayor pro tem.

City Clerk Devon Reid says there may be primaries in some aldermanic races.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, announces that he has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Says he has what he needs, but mentions opportunities for people to help others deal with the pandemic — and urges that people keep looking out for each other.

SP1 – Reparations, restorative housing program
For discussion. Kimberly Richardson of city staff does a presentation on the program (not available online).
Richardson says that under state law, because the city only has one cannabis business now, staff can’t reveal how much money the cannabis tax is generating, but says it will be enough to start operating the housing program next year.

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Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, says housing was the most-recommended remedy for past discrimination in discussions starting last year.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says reparations is not easy work, because there’s no template to follow. Says the whole nation is watching what we’re doing.

Says have met with two financial institutions in town that will be able to partner with the city on the reparations program. Looking for the institution to provide additional resources for the program. Says “hopefully we are getting close” to having a solid proposal.

Alderman Suffredin suggests revisiting zoning for cannabis businesses. Says other states’ experience suggests it take five years to get to a mature cannabis business.

Rainey says almost all districts, other than residential ones, are authorized for dispensaries as special uses.

Suffredin says restricting locations from being near day care centers may need to be revisited. Goal is to increase the amount of revenue going into this fund, Suffredin says.

Suffredin says Wilmette has recently approved cannabis dispensaries and Skokie already has one. Wants Evanston to be positioned to collect as much cannabis tax revenue as possible.

Rainey says existing dispensary is generating about $40K in tax revenue a month. Hopes that with pending expansion that may increase to $55K to $60K a month. (That would still fall short of the $1M/year goal.)

SP2 – Committing to fully funding general fund reserves by 2025
Alderman Wynne says Alderman Fiske wanted to be in on this discussion, but she’s not here. So Wynne moves to hold the item until the next Council meeting.
That’s approved.

SP3 – Tax levy amendment
(To have the levy match the budget that was actually adopted last month.)
Hitesh Desai, CFO, says there was a math error in the last-minute levy calculation the night the budget was adopted. So tonight are reducing it by $515K. Revised levy will amount to a 1% increase over the current levy.
Change is approved 6-1 with Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, voting no.

Consent agenda

Removed from consent … A2, A5, A7, A16, P4, R2, H1.
Motion to suspend the rules for P4 and A16 is approved.
Consent agenda (excepting A2, A5, A7, R2 and H1) is approved

A2 – Amazon credit card purchases
Approved 6-0-1 Suffredin abstains

A5 – Levy Center Linden Room automated movable partition purchase
Rainey notes that the Levy Center Foundation will ultimately pay for this item and a total of about $300K for renovating the Linden Room. Says city will initially pay for it because of long lead time for building the partition.
Approved 7-0.

P1 – Tenant based rental assistance program extension funding
(Re-voting because should have been removed from consent.)
Approved 6-0-1. Rue Simmons abstains.

A7 -Landscape maintenance contract at the Crown Center
Braithwaite says should be looking for a local contractor for this project.
Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says 24 companies were invited to bid. Six were Evanston businesses. Most did not respond. Others said they don’t do that sort of work any more.
Contract approved 7-0.

R2 – Amending council rules regarding virtual platform meetings
Fleming says need further thought about how to maintain civility. Says proposal doesn’t address her concerns.
Approved 6-1. Fleming votes no.

H1 – AMITA behavioral health contract
Fleming says she’s unhappy that staff didn’t rewrite the proposal after last meeting.
Health Director Ike Ogbo says minor revisions were made, but apparently didn’t get included in the Council packet for tonight.
Wynne says should hold until have the correct language.
Ogbo says current contract expires at the end of the year.
City Attorney Kelley Gandurski suggests Ogbo share his screen to show the revisions.
Can’t get the screen share working.
Gandurski suggests as an alternative, extending the current contract through Jan. 31, 2021.
That suggestion is moved and seconded.
And is approved 7-0.

Call of the Wards

Several aldermen wish quick recovery for Alderman Wilson .. and happy holidays.

Rainey makes reference seeking to charge NU fee for fire services.

Braithwaite makes referral to P&D to look at models of ADUs that could be pre-approved by staff.

Council votes to go into executive session. Public meeting ends at 8:16 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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