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Recap: City Council

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

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

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 5:54 p.m.

All aldermen present except Aldermen Fiske and Fleming. They both join later.

Mayor Steve Hagerty notes the Evanston Community Foundation is near its goal for emergency pandemic relief.

Asks everyone who has the means to do carryout from restaurants to help them through the tough months of January and February — made even tougher by the pandemic.

Regarding the multiple shooting incidents in Chicago and Evanston on Saturday, Police Chief Demitrous Cook says, “This is the most horrific deal I’ve been in in 41 years in law enforcement. Praises the police officers involved in the incident. Says psychological services will be available to members of the police department.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says it was a shocking situation that stunned everybody. Says if police hadn’t put a stop to this rampage there could have been many more fatalities.

Mayor says state is controlling distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Says still in phase 1-a, for front-line health care workers — 5,225 doses received in Evanston 4,125 have been distributed to hospitals and health care workers. Says the city has held three vaccination events for non-hospital based health care workers. That will account for the rest of the vaccines distributed here so far.

Urges more people to register through the city’s vaccination survey.

Says schedule for rest of vaccination phases is not clear yet.

Health Director Ike Ogbo says hopes to complete Phase 1-a by next Monday. Anticipates another shipment of vaccines late this week and will have another vaccination event for health care workers next Tuesday.

Says people can get vaccinated either in the community where they live or where they work.

City Manager Erika Storlie praises Fire Chief Brian Scott on the occasion of his retirement and his efforts to make the department’s staffing better reflect the community.

Scott says city staff has come together to manage the pandemic crisis. Praises council for supporting a world class fire service.

Aldermen offer praise for the chief.

Public Comment
13 people 3 minutes each

Members of Jackson family thank city officials and residents for help after the fire on Judson Street on Dec. 23 that left them homeless.

SP1 – $500K funding for rental assistance
From federal CDBG funds.
Approved 9-0.

SP2 – Resolution committing to full funding of general fund reserves by 2025
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says city took money from reserves for this year to reduce property tax increase this year.
Says it’s been a long time since the city met its 16.67% reserve target. Last time was in 2014, she says.
Passing the resolution is not the answer. Tried to make the same promise in 2019, and didn’t achieve it.
Calls it “a phony resolution.”
Says needs to have revenues rise instead. Can’t make a promise like this until things get back to normal.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says resolution doesn’t show how city would achieve the goal.
Have election coming up — perhaps should let the next council deal with it.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says a new council can do something different. But says the resolution is important to set a course.
Should be working toward the goals.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, says nothing in the resolution requires anybody to do anything. Says this action should happen in May after the new Council is seated. Appreciate the objective, though.

City Manager Erika Storlie says its important to vote on it tonight. Says rating agencies look at fund balance as measure of fiscal health. Says passed 2019 resolution with best intent — then hit with a 100 year pandemic, which was a good reason to dig into the reserves. Says now’s a good time to reaffirm commitment to get back to the goal.

Suffredin says this is like a promise that we will eat more vegetables, but we won’t be the people who’ll have to eat those vegetables.

Storlie says “it’s better than nothing” in persuading the rating agencies.

Hitesh Desai, CFO, quotes from reports from rating agencies — showing they are concerned about fund balance levels.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward says its a signal to the community, to future councils and to the bond rating agencies that we do know what good policy is.

Council votes to hold the issue until the next City Council meeting.

Consent agenda

Off consent: A2, A3, A6, A15, A16, H1.

Consent agenda approved.

A2 – Amazon credit card bills
Approved 8-0-1. Suffredin abstains.

A3 – Maintenance contract for ice refrigeration system at Crown Center
Approved 9-0.

A6 – Change order to citywide parking study
No change in cost.
Approved 8-0. (Wynne misses the vote.)

Suspension of the rules approved for A15 and A16, to vote on these items for introduction and action tonight.

A15 – Enterprise rent-a-car lease agreement at Maple Avenue garage
(This is for a different space than they currently occupy.)
Approved 9-0.

A16 – Lease agreement with MedMen cannabis dispensary at Maple Avenue garage.
Expanding their space.
Approved 9-0.

H1 – Renewal of AMITA Behavioral Health critical health services contract
City attorney says contract needs to be revised for confidentiality purposes.
Decision, on a 9-0 vote, is to table the proposal to the Jan. 25 City Council meeting.

Call of the Wards

Wilson — Makes reference to Rules Committee regarding ways to establish “deliberative democracy” process for specific issues.

Suffredin — Wants discussion regarding how to educate residents about potential cost of sewer repair.

Braithwaite — Ward meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.

Wynne — Thursday, Jan. 28, ward town hall meeting.

Council votes to go into executive session.

Public meeting ends at 9 p.m.

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