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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 start at 6:55 p.m.

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

Several items were held in committee earlier today and will not be voted on at City Council tonight. They are

  • A12 – An intergovernmental agreement between the CTA and the city to provide police staffing on CTA trains.
  • A13 – Amending the city code regarding sale or real property
  • P1 – Landmark designation for 2715 Hurd Ave.
    • Meeting called to order at 7:03 p.m.

      City clerk notes comments received from over a dozen people about the beach lifeguards situation, eight people supporting, and 30 people opposing, the game-day parking expansion at Canal Shores.

      Public Comment

      Mayor Daniel Biss says many people to speak at public comment so limited to 1 minute 20 seconds each. Starts at 7:13 p.m. Public Comment ends at 8:12 p.m.

      SP1 – Discussion of ARPA Funding Process

      City Manager Erika Storlie introduces discussion of the proposal. Related story.

      Proposed top-level allocation of funds:

      Storlie proposes an open call for proposals which would be evaluated by staff, reviewed by the Economic Development Committee, which would make funding recommendations to the City Council.

      Says need to move quickly in this area because of the critical needs of local businesses.

      For Social Services — also a quick, and similar, process of review.

      Sees a variety of options for infrastructure and city finances. Expects that to take a little more time.

      Sarah Flax, the city’s grants manager, discusses proposals for funding programs targeted to low income neighborhoods — likely targeting census tract 8092 in the 5th Ward.

      Storlie discusses proposed $2.5 million for “participatory budgeting” community decision making about that spending.

      Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) asks whether the social services funding would be reviewed by the Human Services Committee. Storlie says it would be reviewed by the newly formed Social Services Committee — that’s a consolidation of two pre-existing committees — and the members are just being appointed.

      Storlie says depending on how the money is spent, the program could eliminate the city’s need to issue bonds for next year.

      Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) says social service agencies may have bigger needs. May want to even out the fund allocation between economic development and social services.

      Asks whether $6 million would all go into one census tract? Storlie says wouldn’t mean that. Says could be used for social services, too. And not necessarily limited to a single tract.

      Also says social services agencies in Evanston may qualify for other ARPA funds outside of what’s been allocated to the city.

      Ald. Devon Reid (8th) wants more to go to social services. Thinks 8th Ward census tract could also qualify for the low income neighborhoods funding.

      Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says generally on the right track. Says residents who particpaat in his ward meeting put 45% into economic development … and much less into city finances. Wants spending allocated more like his ward residents proposed.

      Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) suggests more funding for social services — especially for mental health impacts of the pandemic.

      Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says do need to look at 8th Ward census tract as well as the on in his ward. Important to target people who have faced hardship, he says. Suggests workforce development effort around lead pipe replacement programs.

      Braithwaite agrees with prioritizing mental health, concerned about evictions.

      Biss asks about infrastructure spending. Says seems to be strong federal interest in lead pipe replacement. Also pending federal funding for infrastructure.

      Storlie says have been tracking that legislation closely. Definitely don’t want to duplicate any funding sources. Will be looking to see what can get from outside sources.

      Biss wants further public engagement. Doesn’t have to happen before a single dime goes out the door — but before the full plan is set.

      Biss says shouldn’t wait for applications to come in for spending the economic development funds. Can set own policy for spending at least a portion of those funds.

      Biss says Council is not committing to specific funding levels at this point –but thinks staff should move forward with the general direction of what’s included in the memo.

      Storlie says could put out a survey about the social services and economic development.

      Consent agenda

      Off consent: A1, A8, A9, A10, A12, A13 (held), A14, H1, P1 (held), R2.

      Rest of consent agenda approved.

      A1 – Payroll and bills
      Nieuwsma recuses because his wife works for a company that’s being paid $200 on the bills list
      Approved 8-0-1 Nieuwsma abstains.

      A8 – MWRA lease agreement amendment re tailgating parking
      Revelle urges support for A8 and A9. Praises Kelly Gandurski’s work in reaching the agreement.
      Says the tailgate parking generates important revenue for the golf course.
      Approved 8-1. Reid votes no.

      A9 – MOU with the city, NU and Canal Shores re game day parking.
      Approved 8-1. Reid votes no.

      A12 – General obligation bond issues for 2021
      Braithwaite says the dollar amounts have not changed, but have been some substitution in the capital projects.
      Notes it’s for introduction tonight. Final approval expected in two weeks.
      Storlie says city is borrowing less this year than it’s paying off from 20 years ago — so will be lowing the amount of debt the city is carrying.
      Kelly says, “This is not fiscal discipline.” Rattles off a dozen or more questions. Claims “We’re playing a little bit of a shell game here.”
      Calls for referring it to the Budget and Finance Committee.

      Lara Biggs, city engineer, says City Council passed resolution in February authorizing most of the expenditures. Says got grant from Cook County for animal shelter that required matching fund commitment from the city.

      Braithwaite says projects have been discussed for years and and added to the capital improvement program.

      Reid’s seconds Kelly’s motion.

      Reid suggests moving forward with the refinancing of bonds and refer the rest of the bond issuance to the Finance and Budget Committee.

      Hitesh Desai, CFO, says its more efficient to issue all the bonds at the same time.

      Reid withdraws his suggestion.

      Nieuwsma says great to have the Budget and Finance Committee for next year’s bond issue — but do have time to do that for this year?

      Storlie says don’t have that kind of time for this year. Would run out of funds for projects that are already underway.

      Biggs says there have been 20 contacts issued to date that commit to $6M.

      Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) says delays will cost the city money. Can take a close look spending plans for next year through the new Budget and Finance Committee.

      Kelly interrupts. Mayor says Wynne has the floor.

      Wynne says projects can often take three four years — and have to pay for design and engineering costs before projects are actually constructed — and they’re all part of the capital improvement projects. Says can’t delay it without it costing the city money. Says Budget and Finance Committee hasn’t even been staffed yet.

      Biss says committee won’t be fully populated until September.

      Motion to refer to the budget committee fails 4-5, Reid, Fleming, Kelly and Burns voted for the referral.

      Main motion to introduce the bond proposal carries 7-2. Reid and Kelly vote no.

      A14 – Lakefront parking fee pilot program
      Amended to set Aug. 1 as the start of the test period.
      Approved 7-2. Kelly and Wynne vote no.
      As amended ordinance approved 7-3. Kelly, Wynne and Revelle vote no.

      H1 – Food carts at the lakefront
      Nieuwsma not opposed to the idea, but needs more public engagement. Proposes referral to Parks and Recreation Committee.
      Revelle supports Nieuwsma’s suggestion.
      Reid says this was introduced quite a while ago. Has gone through the current public process. Has now been before Council three times.
      Says not talking about building new structures. Not committing to anything permanent.
      Suggests some of the opposition is anti-immigrant.

      Wynne says she appreciates Nieuwsma’s suggestion. Says its clear the staff is concerned about whether will have the right licensed food carts on the lakefront. Says has heard a lot of opposition to the food cart idea.

      Nieuwsma withdraws his proposal.

      Ordinance approved 6-3. Kelly, Wynne and Revelle vote no.

      R2 – Amendments to Council Rules
      Approved 9-0.

      Call of the Wards

      Reid … Thursday ward meeting 7 p.m. virtual. Apologizes to victims of beach lifeguard sexual harassment situation.

      Wynne … says it’s “really rich” that council member who was subject of multiple sexual harassment complaints (referring to Reid) is apologizing now for the beach situation when he never apologized before.

      Reid … says it’s a damn shame others didn’t apologize.

      Nieuwsma says regular ward meeting Tuesday night Aug. 3 at Crown. Another meeting 5:30 p.m. Aug. 5 for neighbors near Main and Maple including Albany Care to address quality of life issues in that area.

      Biss says he’s troubled by what happened a few moments ago. “We have to work together for the next four years. — which is duty owe to all the citizens.” Says can’t work together if disagreements become personal.

      Council goes into executive session at 10:41 p.m.

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