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Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he’ll ask aldermen at a special City Council meeting tonight to start a complete review of all city services.

In a message posted on the city website, Bobkiewicz says he believes the city has cut about as much as it can from existing programs and still deliver those services with high quality. But it still faces multi-million dollar budget shortfalls on into the future.

He suggests that the city needs to narrow its focus and “look to others to provide” some services where that could be done more cost-effectively.

He says any further tax hikes would increase the “flight of residents and businesses from Evanston” and that keeping and enhancing the city’s business and residential mix is critical to the community’s future.

Bobkiewicz says he hopes to begin a community discussion about the review process next month and complete the review in time to submit next year’s proposed budget to the City Council on schedule in early October.

Despite published reports that the city plans to close three north side recreation facilities — the Ecology Center, Chandler-Newberger Center, and the Noyes Cultural Arts Center — Bobkiewicz says no decisions have been made about specific programs or facilities to close or reduce.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. Citizen’s input?

    Having watched the so called citizen budget input processes of the city over the last two years – I think they were just window dressing.

    The city manager has already got a plan in place for what he wants to cut.  Why are they having an executive session prior to the budget meeting?

    I think the branch library issue was a lot of nonsense.  $350,000 to run them. Hundreds of citizen raised over $200,000 in less than a year.   To me this was  a strong indication of support and community funding raising.

    What has the city done – Wally created a volunteer coordinate position wasting $80,000 of taxpayer money. What is this person suppose to be doing? No much but wasting our tax dollars. ( window dressing )

    This not so much about the branch libraries as why is the city telling us it wants our support  and then turns around and does something different.

    Yard waste sticker screw up – almost 1/2 of the total budget short fall – yet what will Wally do about that issue?

    Any one watching the council knows they are mostly just taking up air space – there are very few and real discussions about budget items.  Watch them waste a hour talking about $10,000 a expense and then watch them approve a 1 million expense with no discussion.

  2. Well if the library people

    Well if the library people are so good at fundraising, then why dont they focus on something worthwhile?? The branch libraries are simply a stupid idea. Get them focused on the overall City budget or any other program that actually matters

  3. Cutting Programs

    Human Resources programs serve only a small portion of our population and also duplicate some programs of City churches and other non-profit organizations. I think there is lots of room for cuts there, rather than cutting programs that are for all residents, such as the Ecology Center.

  4. City Manager’s Hands Are Tied

    I observed the coverage of our budget process last year both during and after citizen participation.  While it is true that citizen recommendations were overlooked on multiple and deep issues, it too must be said that the majority of legitimate cuts that Wally recommended were received with "additional information needed" requests from our City Council.  Ultimately, these cost-cutting measures were rejected by our Council as well.  Many of Wally's requested cuts were reasonable, but because each fit under the heading "pet project" for one or more of our aldermen, they were voted down by group majority because of the back room dealing that took place between aldermen.

    As regards the libraries, it is suspicious that South Branch users were romanced by "Friends," only to have their branch closed and a twig given in return.  On the surface, all appearances are they were blatantly used and then politically outmaneuvered by North Evanston who really-really-really wanted to keep their branch!  As a long-time Southie who has born the brunt of North Evanston's self-appointed exceptionalism,  I could have foretold this outcome, and it is no surprise that we continue to languish from lack of library service in West Evanston.  Perhaps, to compromise with everyone, we should open a Southwest Branch Library in the defunct Recycling Center (forget the ridiculous sports arena floated to benefit our children's bodies rather than their minds) and close North Branch.  Such a change would create a system where everyone in our city has relatively equidistant access to library resources and I further contend that our Levy Seniors would love the idea!

    1. Both branches will be closed

      Both branches will be closed in less than six months, how does that represent any kind of victory for one part of Evanston over another?

        1. Quoting from

          Quoting from http://evanstonnow.com/story/education/bill-smith/2010-12-09/library-branches-and-then-there-was-one:

          Thursday, December 9, 2010

          The vote came amid nearly three hours of debate about how to spend nearly $149,000 remaining in the funds allocated to the library… staff said the $149,000 was only enough money to operate a single branch for nine of the 10 months of the budget year….

          The vote to fund the north branch for six months passed 7-1…. It was unclear what the board planned to do with the roughly $50,000 left unallocated by its vote.

          A possibly relevant fact on the topic of the City budget is that the Library Board broke off from the City so they aren't really a part of the City budget any more so I'm not sure why you're bringing it up.

          1. @Christian Sorenson – Not

            @Christian Sorenson – Not wanting to dispute you because you are correct in what has been stated, but having lived here so long, I can guess which way the winds of circumstance will blow.  The reported passage of the budget that I'd read stated, "The eventual compromise lead to the 7-2 passage of a motion that designated funding to the North Branch for six months of staffing and operations at its current schedule, with the promise to use the next several months to locate additional revenue for both the continued operation of the North Branch and the relocation or storage of the South Branch's furniture and reading materials."  I think it is a fairly safe assumption, based on what has transpired in the past, to say North Branch will get the needed funding to stay open.  As for why I made any statement about the library… it was directed toward a comment left prior to mine by Anonymous titled "Well if the Library People."

            Thank you for your response to my comment.

        2. As quoted in the anonymous

          As quoted in the anonymous response (thank you to anonymous), the library board voted to fund the North Branch library until the end of August of 2011. I can't remember the specific reason as to why the North Branch was given six months and the South Branch was not, but vaguely I recall the City, before ceding control to the Library Board, possibly terminating the lease for the South Branch/not renewing the lease for the South Branch.

          The building the North Branch is in is owned by the City, and also includes the business Perennials, so I'm sure they worked with the owner of Perennials to assure them they wouldn't be thrown out. In fact, I'm also not completely sure but I seem to remember the council voting to pass a three year lease with Perennials.

          Anyway, I don't mean to downplay your distinction between the entitlement factors of different parts of Evanston, but instead of internecine fighting you should realize all Evanstonians lost library services that aren't likely to return with this current council and collection of staff members. We're also likely to lose more, considering our staff and budgets apparently have structural deficits for the next few years.

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