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Mayor offers library funding compromise

Evanston’s mayor says she plans to offer a compromise plan for funding the city’s library at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she’s listened carefully to what library board members say they want.

Evanston’s mayor says she plans to offer a compromise plan for funding the city’s library at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she’s listened carefully to what library board members say they want.

"I think they want to not have any more cuts in the money they receive and want predictable funding going forward and eventually more money for the library," Tisdahl told Evanston Now.

She says the ordinance she’s proposing would set the current library budget as "a basement" below which funding would not be reduced, and it would provide that the library would get a proportionate share of any future increase in the city’s general fund budget.

"That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t increase the budget more if we could," Tisdahl added, but it would mean the council wouldn’t cut any more and there’d be a predictable plan for any future funding increase.

The council has scheduled a discussion with the library board about library services and funding options during Monday’s meeting.

As an ordinance, the mayor’s proposal would be subject to change by the City Council in the future, and it’s not clear whether it would persuade the library board to reverse course from its plan to impose a separate library tax levy on city residents.

The mayor said she’s also unsure whether some aldermen will support the compromise — given the possibility the econmy could get worse and cause city revenue to slump further.

"There are legitimate concerns on both sides about that," Tisdahl said, "but it’s a compromise I hope will work."

She said if the city is faced with making more budget cuts "there really aren’t great cuts left."

"But obviously we’d look at parks and recreation before police and fire," she added.

She noted she’s scheduled a presentation at the council meeting by Joshua Rauh, a finance professor at Northwestern University an an expert on public pensions.

She said Rauh, an Evanston resident, "is going to come and tell us our pension obligations are going to sink us no matter what we do and will tell use when we will go bankrupt from the pensions."

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