Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons late today defended the decision to make a $5,000 donation of Evanston city funds to a campaign to provide safe drinking water to Flint, Mich.
Tisdahl, in an email message, said, "The money is coming from the water fund. When another city needs water helping them is the right thing to do, and Evanston has a long, proud history of doing the right thing."
The donation was announced Thursday, three days after a CIty Council meeting at which no discussion of the contribution occurred, and several months after news of Flint's drinking water contamination problems first became widely known.
Lyons, who's filling in as acting city manager while CIty Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is on parental leave, said the manager is authorized to make expenditures within a given fund's budget limit without prior City Council approval, if the expenditure is is less than $20,000.
The council typically approves those expenditures retroactively, on the next meeting's bills list.
Lyons said that several line items within the Water Fund budget could be used to cover the donation to Flint and that he's recommending the public education account, which includes money for water conservation programs.
"If we could practically send our best-in-state water to Flint, we would," Lyons said, but they still get a benefit from the cash donation — which he said, amounts to just 7-cents for each Evanston resident.
In announcing the donation to Flint, Tisdahl also urged Evanston residents to make their own donations to a Flint Water Fund operated by the Genessee County United Way.
Mayor sends city money to help Flint (1/28/16)