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.
All present, Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) and Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) online.
PH1 – Public hearing for 2024 proposed budget
Len Lamkin wants to add $4 million for participatory budgeting to the 2024 budget. Says it encourages young people to participate — 500 votes came from Evanston Township High School students.
Eric Paset speaks in opposition to increase in property tax and water bills. Says it kills affordable housing as a result of pass-through of higher costs to tenants.
John Kennedy objects to proposed increase in general obligation bonds projects for 2025 and 2026. (These are not part of the budget for 2024 and not what’s being proposed for adoption this fall.) Says nobody wants the new civic center, police/fire headquarters and service center.
Mike Vasilko says there’s no attempt by staff to control spending — it’s just spending more.
Several additional fans of participatory budgeting also ask the council to spend $4 million on that next year. Nobody suggests anything they would be willing to cut from the budget to find those funds.
Trisha Connolly says the city is preparing to raise taxes far more than other cities will do.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) praises the diversity of people who spoke in favor of participatory budgeting. Says could move money from other programs to fund it.
Wants environmental equity project and bike rebate added to the budget.
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says she can’t support the proposed budget. Says have an “ask for everything budget” that’s forcing out middle-class people and small businesses.
Budget schedule going forward
Tuesday, October 24: Budget Town Hall (Spanish)
October – November: Budget Discussion at Ward Meetings
Monday, Nov. 6: Truth in Taxation Public Hearing at City Council
Monday, Nov. 13: City Council meeting to discuss budget.
Monday, Nov. 27: Anticipated budget adoption date
Tuesday, Dec. 26: Tax levy filing deadline
Sunday, Dec. 31: Budget approval deadline
End of budget hearing.
City manager public announcements
City receives award for Central Street Bridge project — replacing more than century-old bridge and keeping two-way traffic going throughout the project.
Two minutes each
Len Lamkin claims the city should somehow force NU to sign a community benefit agreement. “They have plenty of money,” he says.
Don Ziegler objects to the watering down in committee of the proposal to ban all flavored tobacco products.
Several additional speakers favor a total ban on flavored tobacco sales.
Representatives of two advocacy groups for tobacco sellers claim ordinance would promote illegal tobacco sales.
Special orders of business
SP1 – Participatory budgeting results
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says he favors approving the projects that won the voting.
But he says it’s not appropriate to approve the expense this evening — given the lack of detail on individual projects in the packet.
Says will later make a motion to table.
PB Manager Matt Orren makes a presentation.
Reid says he’s ready to move forward with approval of the funding.
Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) calls PB the best of what Evanston has to offer.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says she likes the program but agrees with Nieuwsma that need more details.
Kelly praises the project, but agrees with Nieuwsma that need more detail.
City Engineer Lara Biggs says staff is looking just for general indication from Council that wants to move forward — will then come back with more details about the projects.
Nieuwsma says he’s not willing to authorize the expenses now. Says he would be willing to approve the general allocation.
Approved 9-0. “The city manager is authorized to execute the projects,” Mayor Daniel Biss says.
Off consent: A2, A11, A17, A18, A20, A22, HS1, HS2, H3.
Rest of consent agenda approved 8-0. (Rei
A2 – BMO Harris credit card activity
A11 – Senior congregate meal program
Ald. Harris asks about using Meals on Wheels as the provider. Staff says their prise was $6.50 per mean, where the chosen vendor charges $5.35.
A17 – Ambulance fee increase
Reid says this and next two items should have gone to Referrals Committee.
Biss says its a gray area. Says a flat numerical fee that increases from time to time doesn’t seem to him to be a policy change.
Revelle says an increase in a fee that already exists, doesn’t strike here as a policy change.
Approved 9-0 for introduction
A18 – Increase in sanitation service charges
Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) asks whether the item could be postponed to the time of the budget vote. Says it may be necessary, but should look at all the tax and fee increases together.
Reid moves to hold. Kelly seconds. So it will be on the Nov. 13 council agenda.
A20 – Water rate increase
Reid moves to hold. Suffredin seconds. So it will be on the Nov. 13 council agenda.
A22 – Ban on trucks around Clesen Nursery
Reid says he met with owners of Clesen a week or so ago. Says they’ve tried to cooperate but have outgrown the space.
Says not financially feasible to sell the space and move somewhere else, given that it’s zoned R1.
Proposes to move the item until the first meeting in June 2024. Kelly seconds.
Nieuwsma says this is like a zombie that keeps coming back. Says its been on the agenda about a half dozen times.
Representative of Clesen, on the phone, says have implemented several mitigation measures this year, including creating staging area at Home Depot. Says police have told him there’s been only one service call to police about semi-trucks this year.
Chief Schenita Stewart says there haven’t been any incidents recently — only two calls since January.
Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) suggests that neighbors should call the business — at all hours.
Issue tabled till first meeting in June 2024 on a 8-1 vote. (Nieuwsma votes no.)
HS1 – Ban on flavored e-cigarettes
Revelle moves introduction, and an amendment to ban all flavored tobacco products. Wynne seconds.
Revelle says flavored cigars are the second most used flavored tobacco product.
Reid says businesses in community may close as a result of the ban. Concerned about loss of tobacco tax revenue.
Suffredin says city making a mistake to tell adults what legal products they can purchase or consume in Evanston — fine with banning underage sales.
Nieuwsma says he favors the city’s public health goal, over its economic development goal in this case.
Revelle offers another amendment to include “synthetic cooling or numbing products” in the ban (to cover substitutes for menthol).
Last amendment approved 5-4. Amended ordinance approved 6-3.
HS2 – Minimum wage ordinance
Restaurant owners had proposed three amendments to the ordinance.
Reid proposes raising the bigger business wage to apply to businesses with more than 100, rather than more than 50 employees. Approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.
Reid says he opposes a reduced minimum wage for workers under the age of 18. “Equal work, equal pay,” he says. (That’s the second proposal from the business owners.)
He also opposes their third suggestion — eliminating the cost of living escalator in the ordinance.
Nieuwsma proposes setting the youth wage at the county minimum wage — $14.05 an hour. Revelle seconds. Nieuwsma says he agrees with business owners that it will encourage more hiring of young people.
Geracaris suggests a lower wage for people under 16 who need a work permit. But thinks for older than that it should be the same wage as for an adult.
Suffredin says don’t have to appear to have a well thought out proposal. Moves to hold until next meeting. Kelly seconds. So the item is held to the Nov. 13 meeting (but will have the new tiers in the draft at that time that was approved tonight).
HS3 – Providing exceptions to gambling prohibition.
Approved 8-1 for introduction. Suffredin votes no.
Call of the wards
Suffredin … Nov. 1 ward meeting on budget.
Revelle … Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at Chandler. Joint meeting with 6th Ward.
Reid … asks for more details on overall tax increases — including form school boards.
Geracaris .. Spanish language budget town hall on Thursday.
Kelly … Wednesday tax exempt property discussion 7p Parasol room.
Harris … ward meetin tmororw ant Crown at 6 p.m.
Wynne … Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. Crown joint ward meeting on budget.
Nieuwsma … Joint meeting with 3rd at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 on budget
Burns … 5th and 8th Ward budget meeting Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. at Crown and online.
Council goes into executive session to discuss workers compensation and minutes review at 10;07 p.m.