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Recap: City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of Monday night's Evanston City Council meeting.

Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m.

A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 6:50 p.m.

Public hearing on 2022 budget

Ray Friedman complains that residents are left out of budget decisions.

Mike Vasilko says the new council has transformed in the blink of any eye into the old spendthrift council.

Diane Goldring says the budget presentation last week was infuriating.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) asks about “contract tracers” in the budget.

Health Director Ike Ogbo says that $575K budget is for continuing COVID-19 contact tracing and data collection. Have been paid so far from state grants — that are expiring in November and December this year.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) notes that budget memos from staff are available online answering numerous questions.

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) wants to split out ARPA funds for separate accounting.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) asks about progressive fees and fines — wants to charge folks who make more higher fees and fines for the same violations. Also wants a head tax on corporate employers.

Says he misspoke regarding creating a higher tax rate for luxury units at last meeting — says he’s not looking to raise taxes on the middle classes.

Questions whether there’s a need to fill police vacancies.

Kelly asks for a three year budget projection.

Biss says he thinks that makes a lot of sense, but at this point to expect a three year blueprint from staff before the vote on the 2022 budget is unrealistic, but should move toward it.

Wynne says that’s exactly the type of planning that should be addressed at the budget and finance committee, which will hold its first meeting tomorrow.

Budget hearing adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

Mayor’s public announcements

Mayor declares Oct 24 World Polio Day.

Public Comment

1.5 minutes for each speaker.

Public comment ends at 8:40 p.m.

SP1 – Contract with AECOM for civic center and police/fire headquarters relocation feasibility study

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Nieuwsma asks about much lower priced bid. City Engineer Lara Biggs says they did not present well in an interview and seemed unsure about their ability to accomplish the task.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) says he’s really excited about getting the information that will be provided by the study.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) agrees — is looking forward to getting the information. Says she voted three times to leave the current building more than a decade ago — but the great recession changed those plans. Says need greater synergies between police, fire and rest of city staff. Says much of current Civic Center building is wasted space. It’s beautiful, but doesn’t work well as an office building, she says.

Kelly calls $400K an enormous amount of money — thinks city is purchasing not an objective study but buying a conclusion. Says community has rallied around the Civic Center in the past. Proposes referring the issue to the referrals committee.

Motion dies for lack of a second.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says need the information from the consultant to know what to do about moving from or repairing the existing buildings.

Fleming says city does lots of studies and either does nothing or not enough with them. If spend the money on a study, but then decide don’t want to move because the citizens come out and yell about not moving from the building.

Kelly moves to go with the lowest bidder. (Told by mayor to put the motion in writing.)

Braithwaite asks whether the study would include potential sale price of the civic center and police/fire building and the potential tax revenue. Says could get ballpark info outside of the contract with the consultant.

Wynne says she doesn’t support going with a different bidder. When have two or three bids that come in close together — something is wrong with a dramatically lower bid.

Wynne says the Council voted unanimously to move more than a decade — but it was a complicated process that fell apart when the real state market tanked. Says being downtown will provide foot traffic that will benefit local businesses.

Kelly now moves to refer the matter to A&PW. Suffredin seconds.

Reid says need to do the study. Thinks staff’s analysis makes sense.

Motion fails 3-6. Kelly, Fleming and Suffredin voted in favor.

Main motion approved 5-4. Kelly, Fleming, Suffredin and Reid vote no.

Consent agenda

Off consent: A2, A5, A8, A9, A10, A11, A15, A16, A17, A19, A21, P2, ED1, R2.

Consent agenda approved with that long list of exceptions.

A2 – Skate park contract with Teska Associates

Approved 8-1. Reid votes no.

(A5 did not make it out of committee.)

A8 – $850K in ARPA funds or 2021 equipment replacements.

Approved 7-2. Fleming and Kelly vote no.

A9 – City commitments concerning Five-Fifths TIF

Kelly says city should spend on the 5th Ward without creating a TIF. Claims TIF will divert money from the public schools. Claims TIFs negatively impacting low and moderate income communities.

She moves to refer the proposal to the finance and budget committee.

Fleming seconds.

Motion fails 3-6. Fleming, Kelly and Suffredin voted on the losing side.

Nieuwsma suggests this resolution and the IGA with D65 should match.

Burns says the resolution — among other things — will establish an advisory committee for the TIF to review TIF expenditures and establish other guidelines.

Reid moves amendment to specify that the advisory board would last for the full life of the TIF.

Burns seconds.

Amendment approved 6-3. Fleming, Kelly and Suffredin vote no.

Vote on the resolution itself also splits 6-3 with same council members voting no.

A10 – Intergovernmental agreement with D65 regarding the TIF

Approved 5-4. Fleming, Wynne, Suffredin and Revelle vote no. (But see the reconsideration vote later in the meeting.)

(The IGA was listed as A13 in some versions of the agenda.)

A15, A16, A17 – TIF ordinances

Kelly asks what will be the source of revenue for the first five years.

Paul Zalmezak, economic development manager, says it will be driven by the Trulee development at 1815 Ridge, plus triennial reassessments, plus inflation.

Consultant says that based on a variety of assumptions the TIF might yield a net total of $900,000 by 2025, with about $400,000 of that coming from the Trulee building.

The total for the life of the TIF is $77,000,000 before distributions to school and library districts (which could consume 40% of the total).

Zalmezak says about 8% of the total might come from a redevelopment of the Civic Center.

Says has not made any decisions about bonding for the TIF at this point because no specific project has been identified that would be bonded for.

Kelly claims the city could spend $900,000 on the 5th Ward in that time frame without a TIF.

Suffredin moves to call the question. Fleming seconds.

Motion to call the question passes 7-2. Reid and Kelly vote no.

Ordinances are approved 5-4. with Reid, Fleming, Kelly and Suffredin voting no.

A11 – Sale of former north branch library site.

Approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.

A19 – Lakefront parking

Wynne moves to exclude the 500 to 800 blocks of Sheridan Road — which unlike the rest of the area affected is not actually on the lakefront.

Revelle seconds.

Parking Manager Mike Rivera says 500 block is multifamily, rest are single family. Rivera says the change should have a major impact on revenue from the change.

Burns suggests creating residential permit parking on those blocks.

Suffredin says Rivera was right the first time and aldermen shouldn’t be questioning staff’s expertise. (That got a chuckle from some other council members.)

Vote on amendment 6-3. Reid, Fleming and Suffredin vote no.

Reid says he would rather see a residential parking permit solution, as Burns suggested earlier

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

A21 – Override of mayor veto of amendment to civil service commission rules.

Nobody makes a motion on that

Braithwaite moves to reconsider the vote on A10

Motion to reconsider carries 6-3. No votes from Reid, Kelly and Burns

IGA fails on a vote of 4-5. No votes from Fleming, Braithwaite, Wynne, Suffredin and Revelle.

P2 – Leaf blower policy amendment

(This was amended in committee to change “golf greens” to “in play areas on golf courses” — so they can continue to use gas blowers.)

Fleming thinks its absurd to exempt the golf course while making everybody else comply.

Reid doesn’t want to exempt the golf course either.

Suffredin says that if the golf course fails the city would be responsible for maintaining the property. So, he says, should give the golf course the exemption requested.

Kelly wants to fine the homeowner, not the lawn care company. (Ordinance now would allow penalizing either.)

Approved 9-0.

ED1 – Ward Manufacturing special assessment renewal

Amended unanimously to include two Ward properties. Original resolution had included only one. The two properties are at 2222 and 2230 Main St.

Amended resolution adopted 9-0.

R2 – Votes required to remove the city manager
Arrived at council with no recommendation because it received a tie vote in the Rules Committee.
Nieuwsma moves and Wynne seconds. Then they both withdraw their motion and second.
So no action taken.

Call of the Wards

Reid … 8th Ward meeting Oct. 28 virtual at 6 p.m.

Fleming … 9th Ward … will have budget discussion…look for an email

Kelly … budget discussion a week from Thursday … virtual meeting.

Braithwaite … budget discussion 2nd Thursday of November.

Wynne … Thursday town hall meeting in person at EPL 6 p.m.

Nieuwsma … Nov. 2, 7p Robert Crown, budget meeting

Burns … 5th Ward meeting 7p Thursday at Gibbs Morrison. And parking meeting Nov. 17 at Double Clutch regarding parking in that area.

Revelle … Nov. 11 7p joint 6th & 7th ward budget meeting.

Biss … city manager search survey coming soon, and town hall about the search Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Meeting adjourned at 11:14 p.m.

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