Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s meeting of the Evanston City Council.
The meeting is now scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order. Seven alders present. Suffredin absent. Burns is participating remotely.
Mayor Daniel Biss reads National Diaper Need Awareness Week proclamation and one marking the 150th anniversary of Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Libby Hill of Bird Friendly Evanston notes half-century of work leading toward scheduled approval of the city’s bird friendly ordinance tonight.
Various other speakers. Public comment ends at 7:21 p.m.
Special orders of business
SP1 – Appointment of Krissie Harris as 2nd Ward alder
Harris says thanks family and friends. Says she’s very excited and nervous. Thanks her predecessor, Peter Braithwaite, for his service.
SP2 – Resolution objecting to roadway easement at Canal Shores
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) notes that the proposal now is for affordable housing on the privately-owned parcel, but says it would damage an ecologically important area.
Says it would be a shame to have the property developed.
Has an approved easement through Wilmette to the property, but Wilmette officials would prefer it to gain access through Evanston
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says typically would favor replacing a golf course with affordable housing. Says he doubts the city has much power to influence MWRD, which owns the land that the easement would cross.
SP3 – Compensation report
From consultants at Baker Tilly. Jada Kent, senior manager does presentation.
Looked at 14 peer organizations ranging from Arlington Heights to Wilmette. All were Chicago-area suburbs, plus the City of Chicago.
Proposes developing a single pay plan, to replace several plans the city uses now.
Says bringing people to minimum if now below (about 69 people) would cost $262K.
Adding an across the board increase of 2% would raise the cost to about $1.4M
Suggests continued analysis.
Also did staffing assessment which looked at five peer communities — Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Glenview, Oak Park and Skokie.
Says found a need to increase staffing levels across departments to allow management capacity for strategic planning and increase administrative support.
By department, suggests adding five FTE positions to Administrative Services, two to Parks and Recreation, and five to City Manager’s office.
Reid asks Stowe whether he plans to include all those recommendations in the budget. Says he sees additional needs beyond that.
Staffing levels for fire and police were not included in the study.
Stowe says many of the proposed new positions are ones that once were filled.
Reid says should not pay anybody less than a living wage.
Vote to accept the report is 8-0
SP4 – Status update on ARPA funds
Interim Community Development Director Sarah Flax says Council has now allocated or requested about 77% of its ARPA funds, up from a little over 50% in March.
She says the federal government has changed some of its categories that ARPA spending can be assigned to.
Also now have about half of the total funds available in the “revenue replacement” category — which creates additional flexibility. Also have more flexibility in using ARPA funds for affordable housing.
So … city has a little more than $9 million left to allocate.
Hitesh Desai, CFO, says city had an extra 10.7M in its general fund balance (beyond it’s goal of a 16.67% reserve) as of end of last year and has allocated about 3.5M of that and faces a bunch of uncertainties regarding pay increases and staffing levels.
Fund balance policy 16.67% of general fund in Evanston. Some other communities: Schaumburg 40%, Naperville 20%, Des Plaines 25%, Niles 40%.
Would take an extra $3.9M to raise Evanston’s fund balance reserve to 20%.
Says projection shows city going into negative fund balance territory by 2024, depending on how much the Council decides to eat into its fund balance surplus this year.
Desai says communities with higher fund balances didn’t have to cut spending as much as Evanston did when the COVID pandemic hit. Suggests raising Evanston’s goal to 20%.
Approved to place on file 8-0.
Off consent: A9, A14 (held in committee), A25-A29 (motion to suspend and adopt tonight), HC1, R1.
Rest of consent agenda approved 8-0.
A9 – Contract with Streetplus for business district maintenance services
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) in committee moved to approve up to $125K above the proposed contract amount to add a homeless/social work component.
Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says the $125K additional amount, since it got a tie vote in committee, isn’t up for a vote now. But could be amended at this (council) meeting.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) suggests approving just the base amount now and returning with proposal for the additional spending soon.
Steve Hillard of Streetplus describes the social service program Streetplus can provide.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says what’s needed downtown is something different from what Trilogy is expected to offer regarding mental health and behavioral health issues.
“Getting a handle on our panhandler situation is going to be a real challenge,” she says.
Revelle moves to add up to $75K to the proposal from Streetplus.
Kelly says should wait until next meeting and hear from Trilogy as well.
Reid supports the proposal from Burns … or maybe he meant the one from Revelle.
Says it would begin to make a dent in the homeless, begging problem.
He then says he’d favor either $75K or $125K.
Nieuwsma says he supports having trained social workers on the street, but says need to vet this supplier for the service.
Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) moves to call the question. That motion carries 7-1. Reid votes no.
Vote on Revelle’s amendment fails on vote of 3-5. Wynne, Nieuwsma, Geracaris, Kelly and Harris voted no.
Vote on the unamended contract with Street plus carries 8-0.
A25 through A29
Apply to … 619 Howard, 999 Howard, 1805 Howard, 1932 Central and 702 Clark.
For introduction and action.
HC1 – Transfer of NSP2 remaining funds to the CDBG Program
R1 – Amending City Council rules
Allows residents to serve as chair of a committee with both residents and council members that reports directly to the City Council or standing committees.
Reid moves to amend to also strike city’s COVID rules, which he said would comply with latest CDC guidance. (These are rules 4.1.1 and 10.7.)
Cummings says City Council Rules require that amendments go through the Rules Committee.
Reid moves to suspend Rule 9.3 to permit amending without going through the Rules Committee
Wynne says she’d liked to go home while it’s still today. (It’s now 9:45 p.m.)
Motion to suspend the rules passes 8-0.
Motion on the amendment passes 8-0.
Amended amendment is approved 8-0.
Call of the ward
Nieuwsma … Tuesday, Oct. 4, ward meeting.
Reid … proposes special order of business for one of next two regular council meetings to set aside $50K for refugee resettlement of folks being bused in from Texas. (Motion approved 8-0.)
Geracaris… Wednesday, Sept. 21, ward meeting virtual
Kelly … Ward meeting Thursday.
Harris … Ward meeting scheduled TBD.
Council moves go into executives session to discuss personnel, real property and litigation.
Public meeting ends at 9:55 p.m.