Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting, originally scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. is now expected to begin at 8 p.m., because the committee meetings that preceded the full Council meeting both ran long.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 8:04 p.m.
Mayor Daniel Biss chairs the meeting.
Also present Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), Ald. Bobby Burns (5th), Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), Ald. Devon Reid (8th) and, online, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th).
Clayton Black introduced as the city’s new budget manager.
Special orders of business
SP1 – Midyear financial update
CFO Hitesh Desai makes presentation. Short version is that most revenue is running ahead of budget and most expenses are running below budget.
One concern is that the second installment property tax payments from Cook County are expected to be delayed by several months this fall.
Also certain revenue sources are still low — including motor fuel tax and recreation program fees.
Also parking revenue is low (but expenses are also down). But staff anticipates increase in garage revenue with completion of new residential and commercial projects over the next couple of years.
All city union contracts expire at the end of this year. Inflation is likely to lead to larger cost of living increases in new contracts.
City has a substantial general fund balance at the moment, higher than it’s target level. Council is starting to reduce it by making some purchases with cash that in the past typically would have been funded by selling bonds.
Proposed 2023 budget is scheduled to be released in October.
Reid tries to get Desai to pick a number for the general fund balance at the end of the year.
Desai says city may end with a $5 million operating surplus for the year. (But says there are many uncertainties.)
Reid pitches making a transfer from the general fund to the reparations fund.
Nieuwsma asks what budget picture would look like if the city was fully staffed now. Desai says could easily be $130,000 per person for salary and benefits for one additional employee.
Desai says last year the Council balanced the budget with $4.5 million in ARPA money.
Nieuwsma says the city may also have to increase salaries to to stay competitive in the market.
Kelly says need to get firm number on that.
SP2 – Reproductive Health Care Rights resolution
Reid wants to expand this to legalizing all sorts of drug use as an element of “bodily autonomy.”
Resolution approved 6-0
Off consent CM1, A18, P2, H1, RE1. (A18 and P2 did not get out of committee.)
With those exceptions, consent agenda is approved.
RE1 – Authorizing additional funds to reparations restorative housing program
Derke Price, corporation counsel, says under state law the city could face substantial penalties for discussing the amount of cannabis sales tax revenue.
CM1 – Council minutes July 25
Approved with amendment 5-0-1. Revelle abstains because she wasn’t at the meeting.
H1 – Noise ordinance amendment
Reid moves to table until the first meeting in January 2023. Revelle seconds.
Revelle says noise ordinance needs an additional amendment to deal with restaurants that have outdoor patios. Says that will need to go through the Land Use Commission, because the city doesn’t currently have an approval process for outdoor patios.
Motion to table approved 6-0.
Call of the wards
Reid … Ward meeting last Thursday of the month at the Levy Center.
Geracaris … Ward meeting Aug. 18, virtual at 7 p.m.
Revelle … Ward meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the Poplar Avenue improvement project.
Council votes to go into executive session to discuss matters of personnel, litigation and establishment of reserves or settlement of claims.
Public meeting ends at 9:36 p.m.