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

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

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

Meeting called to order at 6:08 p.m.

Mayor Daniel Biss reads proclamation honoring Dino Robinson for his decades of work with Shorefront, documenting African-American history on the North Shore.

Robinson introduces Laurice Bell, the group’s new executive director.

City Manager Luke Stowe says will have a roadmap later this week regarding response to recent complaints from Black employees.

Public Comment

Mayor says 30 people have signed up for public comment, so each gets 1:30.

Most comments deal with pension funding issue … including the following …

Tim Schoolmaster says city has perpetually shortchanged public safety pensions.

Jack Mortell says fully funding the pensions will save hundreds of millions in future interest costs.

Jeff Cohen questions the need for a tax increase to fully fund pensions — believes can be taken from surplus.

Special orders of business

SP1 – Budget ordinance

Kelly moves to fully fund fire and police pensions, taking the $4.5 million from the budget surplus. Revelle seconds.

Nieuwsma says he’s in favor of starting to catch up. But says would only be changing the curve to get to 100%. Says numbers are likely to change in future years. But says using budget surplus is not a long-term solution. If are serious about funding pension obligations at some point in the future will require a property tax increase, he says.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says council has come together on the need to fully fund the pensions — something Council can be proud of.

Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) asks what property tax increase will be next year to cover at $4.5 million pension payment. CFO Hitesh Desai says if it’s $4.5 million next year, to fund it from the property tax would require a roughly 8% increase in the city’s share of the property tax bill.

Suffredin says, “Next year always comes.”

Kelly’s amendment is approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.

Budget ordinance as amended is approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.

So budget ordinance is approved for introduction. Will be up for adoption at Dec. 12 Council meeting.

SP2-SP8 – Tax levy ordinances

Approved without discussion on an 8-1 vote. Suffredin votes no. Vote is for introduction. Will be up for adoption on Dec. 12.

SP9 – Cannabis possession amendment

Motion by Reid to suspend the rules to introduce and adopt tonight fails on an 8-1 vote with Revelle casting the vote against suspension. (Suspension requires unanimous vote to carry.)

Revelle says it is misleading of Reid to say that the Police Department is on board with the change. Says police are not accepting of open containers in a public place — say they believe it would create public safety issues.

Reid says current rule says if bought a container of cannabis he could be arrested for carrying it into the Civic Center.

Sgt. Scott Sophier says portions of the changes would conflict with state law. Says police would prefer to have the option to issue a city citation, rather than having to make a custodial arrest under state law.

Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says Reid’s objective is to prohibit consumption of alcohol and cannabis in the public way — a quality of life issue. But it still prohibits the transportation in a vehicle.

Reid says he would be happy to have the city ordinance mirror state law, because it is less restrictive than the city ordinance.

Sophier says wants to make sure have ability to cite, rather than arrest.

Reid asks Law Department to redraft the proposal.

Mayor says should not vote until language is clear. Suggests tabling the measure until then.

Chief Schenita Stewart suggests needs some time to review.

Cummings says it would be prudent to wait until Dec. 12.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) says she’d like to understand what she’s voting on — moves to table until Dec. 12. Reid seconds.

Motion to table approved 9-0.

SP10 – Transfer $2M from general fund to the reparations fund

Burns moves. Reid seconds.

Reid says it would allow the reparations fund to make payments to the designated “ancestors.” Says if the program had received the promised $1M per year, it would be at about that level now.

Says could expose the city to some increased legal risk, but believes that risk is worth taking.

Revelle says council has already voted to add $1M from the real estate transfer tax. And the program has roughly $400K on hand. Says that would fund about 40 ancestors. Says that would be a pretty sizable workload for the reparations program for 2023, and she’s concerned about the legal issues.

Burns says if people are going to test the program they’ll find a way to do it. Says the extra $2M would fully fund the ancestors — and there are around 400 descendants who also have applied for funding.

Reid says city has contracted with CEPA to manage the process — but need the funding available to start processing the requests.

Cummings says would be irresponsible of his office to try to say — without actually having a complaint or facts or evidence to say whether a claim would be likely or not. Says once take money from the greater and apply it to the few and there’s a racial component — it does raise the risks.

Rather than being tied up in potential litigation — so can’t pay anyone — it would be better to pay a few at a time without any sort of challenge.

Cummings says home rule taxes are safest to use. That would include the medical marijuana tax and the real estate transfer tax.

Burns moves to table Dec. 12 meeting to give time to discuss issue with Cummings.

Motion to table is approved 9-0.

Consent agenda

Off consent: A4, A5, R1, R2 and S1,

Rest of consent agenda approved 9-0.

A4 – Delivery trucks to Evanston Lumber

Allow them to use Oakton rather than having to make tight turn at Main Street and Custer Avneue.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says its the best of a bunch of not-great options — and that it’s allowed under current city ordinance. The proposal tonight would provide explicit direction to police to permit the trucks to use Oakton.

Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) says there’s no good place for the trucks to be but Oakton is going to have major construction next year. Says Oakton has more traffic in this area than on Main and the enrollment at the schools is higher on Oakton than on Main.

Burns says the ballpark estimate he got from City Engineer Lara Biggs is that it would cost $4 million to $5 million to widen the street at Custer to be narrowing

Resolution fails on a vote of 7-2. Harris and Nieuwsma voted yes.

A5 – Truck ban around Clesen Wholesale

Reid moves to table his proposal until the July 24 meeting.

Motion to table approved 9-0.

R1 & R2 – Cosponsor mechanism for the referral process

Geracaris moves and Nieuwsma seconds.

Reid moves to table to the Dec. 12 meeting, so can have further discussion at the Rules Committee. Harris seconds.

Motion to table is approved 8-1. Revelle votes no.

S1 – Mental health service providers funding

Revelle moves and Reid seconds.

Interim Community Development Director Sarah Flax says staff committee decided to focus on community members with greatest need. New category — getting services the case management client needs. Says the Social Services Committee has looked closely at the issue — trying to provide rapid access to services — including for-profit providers — when they provide comparable services. Says some vendors thought should only use non-profit providers — but the non-profits don’t offer all the services needed.

Says the committee chose to recommend funding for three applicant agencies.

Burns suggests tabling the proposal until the next Council meeting. “Need to bring that group along” referring to the agency representatives who complained about the proposal during public comment this evening.

Reid suggests referring back to the Social Services Committee on Dec. 8.

Flax says it may be hard to get any results from that back to the Dec. 12 City Council meeting.

Wynne says doesn’t want to send it back to the Social Services Committee for a redo. Perhaps just an explanation to the objectors, she suggests.

Kelly wants to send it back to committee.

Vote is 8-0 to refer the issue back to the Social Services Committee

Call of the Wards

Nieuwsma … 4th Ward meeting Tuesday Dec 6, 7 p.m. at Crown.

Burns… 5th Ward meeting Dec. 1. Proposes providing city funding for Shorefront. Also wants to add staff support for council members to budget.

Revelle … Dec 15 next 7th Ward meeting on stadium project.

Reid… Ward meeting Thursday.

Geracaris … virtual meeting Dec. 7 Tuesday at ETHS in south cafeteria.

Council votes to go into executive sessions to discussion collective bargaining, personnel and litigation at 9:29 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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