Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting at which the Council adopted the city’s 2023 budget.

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

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

Meeting called to order at 7:04 p.m.

All present except Suffredin (whose children, the clerk says, are sick).

No announcements from the mayor or city manager or clerk.

Public Comment

Twenty people signed up. So 2 minutes each, the mayor says.

Special orders of business

SP1 – 5th Ward school/community center update

Lara Biggs, city engineer, provides background on the issue.

Says hope to come to City Council on Jan. 9 with some recommendations.

Says D65 has a very tight schedule because already paying back some of the cost of the funding. Need to have school open by fall of 2025. Takes 18 months to build a school if everything goes perfectly.

They want to break ground next August — so their schedule is very tight. City staff wants avoid holding them up.

Says school district has owned the property since the early 1900s. The city acquired the Fleetwood site from the school district in 1954.

Shows slides from packet — illustrating four different design versions.

Says initial proposal would require a variety of zoning variations. And building would have an overpowering presence in the neighborhood.

Blue blocks in this massing model show the proposed 5th Ward school, yellow the Fleetwood Jourdain Center, red the Family Focus center.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says people at the community meeting were generally very open to the proposed designs.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says its an interesting, good challenge to have to solve. Says if going to consider doing something with Fleetwood, for the school district and city to collaborate. Don’t want to pay for two sets of everything — two parking lots, two gyms, etc.

Biggs says there are limited opportunities for sharing because all need the facilities at the same time — gyms right after school, cafeterias at lunch time.

But says there is far less overlap regarding outside spaces — lot of potential for sharing there.

Says Family Focus is only using about 50% of its building now — but has same problem of overlapping needs on the interior facilities.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) asks whether there’s been discussion with the Parks and Rec board. Biggs says there hasn’t been yet. Have been focusing on meetings with Family Focus and the school district, and 1st discussion with community members last week. Will be able to discuss with Parks and Rec board in future. Questions about programming that may not offer currently.

Mayor Daniel Biss says its a giant issue with a lot of ramifications, but thanks for getting started.

SP3 – 2023 Budget Ordinance

Burns moves to increase RETT transfer to Reparations Fund to $3M (from $1M already approved earlier in the fall) for 2023. Plan would then be to continue the $1M transfers annually for seven year, effectively ending the funding stream two years sooner than had originally been proposed.

Reid says he supports this as an alternative to his separate proposal (SP-12 on tonight’s agenda). Notes that this is not limited to the over $1.5 million higher RETT tax.

Nieuwsma asks whether Burns proposal is legally sound. Corporation Counsel Nick Cummings says the City Council has has the latitude to spend its specialty tax money however it wants. Says that’s legally safer than making a transfer from the general fund.

Revelle asks whether could actually distribute all the money provided in 2023.

Cummings says the city doesn’t have the personnel to to manage a program like this — so the city has asked CEPA to manage the program for now. Will be seeking a new RFP and applicants to run the program — if get that should be able to get the money distributed — although staffing is an issue.

Reid says the non-profits the city is working with are not being significantly compensated. Cummings says CEPA is being paid just $10 a year.

Kelly asks for comprehensive report to council about impact and outcomes and plans going forward.

Nieuwsma asks Reid to confirm that this substitutes for his SP-12 proposal. Reid says, yes it does.

Nieuwsma asks CFO Hitesh Desai about drawing down the general fund reserves. Desai says it would leave the reserves at about $34M.

Amendment approved 8-0.

Burns moves amendment to budget $68K to an executive assistant solution provider.

Reid seconds. Nieuwsma says he’d prefer to hire somebody on staff, but will reluctantly support the Burns proposal for 2023.

Amendment approved 7-1. Kelly votes no.

Burns proposes amendment to give $70K to Shorefront Legacy Center.

Harris seconds.

Amendment approved 8-0.

Budget as amended is approved 8-0.

SP2, SP4-10 — Debt service tax abatements and tax levies

Reid says budget isn’t ballooning as much as it seems like it is — because a lot of the difference from prior years is in how loan receipts are being recorded.

Items approved 8-0.

SP11 – Police Department Response

Reid moves. Burns seconds. Reid then moves to table the measure to Jan. 23. Says has made progress on amendments in discussion with Police Department and Law Department. Says he’s really excited about it.

Motion to table is approved 6-0. (Nieuwsma and Burns have left the room.)

Consent agenda

Off consent: A7, R1, R2, RE1.

(Nieuwsma and Burns have returned to the room.)

Consent agenda with those deletions moved by Nieuwsma, seconded by Wynne, and approved 8-0.

A7 – Purchase of insurance/renewals.

(Nieuwsma abstains because the vendor is his wife’s employer.)

Approved 6-0-1.

R1 & R2 – Adding co-sponsor mechanism to the referral process

Geracaris moves. Nieuwsma seconds.

Reid says doesn’t see a rush for this proposal. Asks to again hold the measure until further referrals committee revisions are made.

Burns says he doubts whether another hold would be approved. Says concerned that will lead to misunderstanding about who’s really backing a proposal, or only wants to have it discussed.

Mayor Biss says nothing is guaranteed getting a hearing. Can have 100 co-sponsors but it won’t get a hearing unless the speaker wants to give it a hearing.

Says he originally proposed that only one sponsor would be required — but having two more would force it to be assigned to be assigned by the referrals committee to another committee for consideration.

Reid moves to table to Feb. 13. Motion fails for lack of a second.

Burns says he’s worried that it will look like the “co-sponsor” actually supports the idea — when may only wants it discussed.

Wynne suggests “co-referrer” as an alternative.

Reid says thinks all the words are the same — its just a part of the legislative process.

Reid proposes amendment that if a measure has two cosponsors it would have to appear on an agenda within a quarter.

Biss says committee now recommends time frames — but the ultimate scheduling is up to the committee chair and depends also on staff resources.

Says Reid proposal would require acting on on it within three months.

Harris seconds Reid’s motion.

Mayor says if put a hard deadline it will diminish the quality of discussion by council and research from staff.

Reid withdraws his motion.

Burns moves to replace “cosponsor” with “co-referrer”

That amendment is approved 8-0.

Vote on R1 & R2 as amended … approved 8-0.

RE1 – ARPA funding for reparations economic development initiatives

Burns says makes sense to withdraw this request for funds from ARPA, and the RETT funding approved tonight, don’t need to act on this.

Burns moves to refer it back to the Reparations Committee. Reid seconds.

Approved 8-0.

Call of the wards

Nieuwsma … ward meeting Thursday, Jan 12, 7 p.m at Crown.

Revelle … Thursday, Dec. 15, Stadium project meeting, 7 p.m., virtual

Reid … 8th ward meeting Jan 26, 6 p.m. w. Chief Stewart

Geracaris … He’s moving from Twitter to Mastedon.

Harris … ward meeting Dec. 27, virtual .. and Jan 24, virtual

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss collective negotiating, purchase or use of real property and litigation.

Public meeting ends at 9:26 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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