Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz today announced plans for studies aimed at restructuring city government ahead of the adoption this fall of next year’s city budget.

In a lengthy memo to city staff, he called for reorganizing the public works and utilities departments and named Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons to work full time on examining the services those departments provide.

“I believe this examination will result in the elimination of both departments and the creation of a new department or departments to better deliver these core services,” Bobkiewicz said in the memo.

He also immediately transferred the fleet services division from public works to the Administrative Services Department headed by Lyons.

He said Public Works Director Suzette Robinson and Utilities Director Dave Stoneback would now report directly to Lyons and work closely with him on examining “how the services provided by both departments can better align with city goals and community standards.”

But he said wanted to primarily focus “on how to best leverage the outstanding efforts of the men and women working every day in the field in these departments rather than identify alternative outsourced ways to provide these services.”

With the removal of fleet services, Public Works, with 107 full-time-equivalent employees, becomes the city’s third largest department after Police and Fire. Utilities, with nearly 56 full-time-equivalent employees, is the fourth smallest of the city’s 10 departments.

Bobkiewicz also announced several other reviews including:

  • Emergency management and public safety community relations — to be led by Police Chief Richard Eddington, Fire Chief Greg Klaiber and Parking and Revenue Manager Rickey Voss.
  • Livable community initiatives — to be led by Sustanability Manager Catherine Hurley and Community Development Director Mark Muenzer.
  • Human services — especially focused on affordable housing and shelter for the homeless — to be led by Health and Human Services Director Evonda Thomas-Smith and Muenzer.

Bobkiewicz said that given the state’s severe financial difficulty “it is hard to imagine any resolution of the state’s problems that will not also have negative impacts on the city’s finances.”

And, though the city “is thriving with new private investments,” he added, that us unlikely to fully offset the impact on city revenue of the state’s problems.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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