Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting, at which the Council adopted the $360 million city budget for 2022.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:23 p.m.

Eight aldermen present. Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) is absent.

Dave Stoneback, public works director introduces a snow preparedness video…

YouTube video

Public Comment

Three minutes each, tonight. Starting at about 7:31 p.m. Ends at 7:58 p.m.

Special orders of business

SP1 – 2022 Budget Ordinance
Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) moves introduction Reid seconds.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) proposes an amendment:
Restripe Custer Ave. to restripe it for “road diet” to slow traffic adding $30K to capital improvement program. Burns seconds.

Dave Stoneback, public works director, says speeds are derived by amount of open space — having a mark on the pavement wouldn’t do it. Pulling the curbs in more would work. Also uncertain whether $30K would be sufficient for the marking.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) suggests meeting with staff and proposing a budget amendment later in the year.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says not supportive of moving forward with proposal tonight — has some concerns about Custer between Oakton and Main — but might support later after more research is done.

Mayor Daniel Biss asks City Engineer Lara Biggs about road revisions for traffic calming citywide. Says existing city report on subject is two decades old. Says haven’t looked closely at the issue in quite some time. Wants to come up with new policy this winter.

Says a sign at the crosswalk in the middle of the street is a relatively inexpensive solution that tends to be very effective and at the moment the city only installs them on school routes.

Amendment fails 2-6. Burns and Reid vote in favor.

Reid moves amendment to wheel tax to increase fee for a second vehicle at a single address by $20. Says that would bring in $460K in additional revenue. Calls it a progressive measure — encouraging people to consolidate vehicles. Says could make a it less for older vehicles.

Mayor says the taxes and fees aren’t in the budget — so only would be increasing the fund amount.

Burns suggests could pass the tax hike later — likes the idea — but doesn’t think need to do it right now.

Mayor says just changing the revenue estimate doesn’t adopt the ordinances to raise the revenue, and can’t adopt a new ordinance without two readings at different meetings.

Wynne says not everyone’s second car is a luxury vehicle. But certainly that and other proposals could be subjects for the Finance and Budget Committee to have a more detailed conversation about.

Revelle agrees.

Wheel tax proposal doesn’t get a second.

Kelly asks why some tax revenues are projected to be lower next year, given that expect to be coming off the pandemic.

CFO Hitesh Desai says they can be highly variable — real estate transfer tax, for example, can vary as much as 50% from year to year — and is very hard to predict.

Revelle wants to have the leaf blower inspector hired earlier than mid-year. Need education campaign, she says.

Mayor suggests having discussion about that at an upcoming meeting — doesn’t need to be part of the budget approval tonight.

Burns questions property tax increase.

Kate Lewis-Lakin says total city tax levy isn’t changing next year.

Braithwaite calls the question on the budget at 9:05 p.m.

Wynne seconds.

Motion to call the question fails on a 2-6 vote. Only Braithwaite and Wynne vote for it.

Kelly moves to table the budget.

Cummings says has to be approved at a regular meeting, so next available date would be Dec. 13. (He later changes his mind about that.)

Kelly says moves to table the budget to Dec. 13.

Reid seconds Kelly’s motion.

Desai says tax levy has to be filed by the last Tuesday of December (Dec. 28). Budget itself has to be adopted before the start of the new fiscal year, on Jan. 1

Gandurski says can’t do it in a day — has holiday plans, days off. If don’t pass a budget by the end of the year, your assets can get frozen by the state. Says many other counties and municipalities have already passed their budgets. Is risk all city services would come to a halt.

Wynne says council has always left itself a buffer — so have chance to correct any errors. Have always passed the budget by the last meeting in November. Says she’s prepared to vote yes on the budget tonight. Says can change the process for next year if desired.

Kelly now withdraws motion and moves instead to table the budget to the Dec. 6 special meeting.

Tie vote 4-4. Mayor votes no, so motion fails.
(Braithwaite, Wynne, Revelle and Suffredin voted no.)

Reid moves to remove $25 million in ARPA funding from the budget.

Lewis-Lakin says if do that would have to do a budget amendment in the future to spend any of the funds.

Motion fails for lack of a second.

Nieuwsma wants to allocate $1.5 million for climate action — hopes that will be done at Dec. 6 special meeting.

Kelly proposes change to increase pension fund contribution to reflect what the pension boards asked for.

Desai says 70% of the communities in Illinois use 6.5% rather than 6.25% recommended by the pension boards. Says would increase tax levy by $2 million to $3 million.

Kelly says she expects tax revenue to be $3M to $4M more than budgeted. Wants to do everything can to reduce the pension liability.

Wynne says that’s a topic for the Finance & Budget Committee.

Says had a very long thoughtful discussion several years ago. Has meant raising property taxes many times. Says it needs significant discussion by the community and the council. Doing it over time will require increasing the property tax. It’s not something to be done on the fly.

Desia says current $11.194M contribution to police pension. Change would raise it to $11.971M.
Fire current $9.528M change would raise it to $10.056M.
Combined would be $1.354M more.

Kelly proposes shifting that amount from the the general fund fund balance.

Motion fails 2-6. Kelly and Reid cast the only votes in favor.

Mayor asks clerk to take roll call on the budget as introduced tonight. No amendments were approved.

Budget motion carries 5-3. Burns, Reid and Kelly vote no.

SP 2 – City tax levy

Tax levy carries 5-3. . Burns, Reid and Kelly vote no.

SP-3 through SP 8 … other tax levies

Approved 8-0.

Consent agenda

Off consent A1, A4, P1

Rest of consent agenda approved 7-0. (Kelly has left the dais.)

A2 – BMO Harris credit card activity

Approved 6-0-1. Suffredin abstains.

A4- Cradle to Career annual payment

Approved 6-1. Suffredin votes no.

P1 – Special Use permit for Dempster Snack Shop

Amended in committee to limit tobacco sales revenue to 50% of total sales revenue.

Approved 6-0 (Suffredin has now left the dais.)

Call of the wards

Several aldermen note that Ald. Fleming is with her mother, who’s ill. And offer condolences to Administrative Services Manager Luke Stowe, whose father died.

Nieuwsma … next Ward meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7 at Crown.

Reid … Ward meeting 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, on Google Meet (will offer closed captioning).

Kelly … informal ward gathering at the Evanston Made exhibition in former Urban Outfitters space on Friday, Dec. 10, at 4:30 p.m.

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss litigation and reserves and settlement of claims at 10:23 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.