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Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says the city will face new financial difficulties because of budget woes in Springfield and Washington.

Delivering her State of the City address at a luncheon meeting sponsored by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, Tisdahl said the city could lose $1.4 million if a plan announced yesterday to cut local government funding from the state.

And she said that despite the “good work” of State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, the state’s financial problems “have no soution in sight.”

Sen. Daniel Biss at the State of the City luncheon.

“I will continue to lobby for pension reform, particularly for reforms that do not impact current benefits,” the mayor said, “but so far I am striking out.”

She called the federal government’s sequestration program “incomprehensible from a public policy point of view.”

It will cut HUD programs, including the Community Development Block Grant program that provides funding to Evanston, by about 5 percent this year, “and more trouble will follow that.”

The mayor claimed the city’s own finances are “relatively stable.” The city has maintained its AAA credit rating, the highest available. The city, she said, has met targets for general fund revenue, and kept spending below budget.

It’s also, she said, cut nearly 100 city jobs since 2006 “without significantly impacting services.”

The mayor noted that health services cut by the city have been picked up by the new Erie Family Health Center, which, with $650,000 in annual federal funding, has opened in temporary quarters in the Civic Center and will move to a permanent site at 1285 Hartrey Ave. on July 15.

Douglas Silverstein, president of NorthShore’s Evanston Hospital.

And NorthShore University Health Systems has pledged $1.8 million in funding over the next three years to make Erie’s expansion possible.

The mayor also praised efforts to provide more job traiing for young people who might otherwise end up turning to a life of crime and efforts to bring new businesses to the community.

She said the city is one of a handful of communities across the country that has reached its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 13 percent by the end of last year

And she said that Northwestern University has agreed to keep at least six football games a year at Ryan Field, only using Wrigley Field for a game in years when it has seven home games.

State of the City Address 3-8-13

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. Why is only one of the apartments rented, mayor?

    Why has only one of the apartments above the Ward 8 been rent and the other sits empty?  Rent has been collected on the other one used by the owners of the Ward 8 business, now for over 6 months.

    The mayor talks about this great deal, of getting free refrigerators and now one sits empty?

    The city happens to be the landlord here. Why haven't they rented the apartment?  So the city has lost about $4000 plus in rent, hardly good management.

    And by the way the green bike path the city installed  that the mayor is talking about is fading away as she speaks, I am all for eliminate pork projects our public officials keep dreaming up, cutting the flow of federal funds here is a very good idea, just remember these funds are our federal tax dollars not patronage money for elected federal officials to give away.

  2. Aldermanic election

    Delores Holmes has been instrumental in many positive changes in the 5th Ward, initially as the executive director of Family Focus and as the 5th Ward alderman for the past eight years.  It's an overwhelming job for anyone but she has worked tirelessly to improve the neighborhoods most in need of attention, through economic and housing development and programs for families and youth. 

    We have lived east of Green Bay Rd. in the 5th Ward since 1964.  Most of the 5th Ward is west of Green Bay, and the focus has traditionally been on the larger issues of the West Side.  Over the years our neighborhood has undergone a huge shift as older neighbors have moved or passed away and their homes have been sold to investors as rental properties. 

    Some of these properties had been turned into rooming houses without permits, and Ald. Holmes introduced an ordinance that requires a hearing before a special use permit can be issued.  These conversions brought overcrowding and other problems.  Eventually neighbors contacted Ald. Holmes, who quickly responded and organized a meeting to hear us out and subsequently she began to include the City of Evanston, the Evanston Police Dept. and Northwestern University officials in a dialogue with us to improve conditions that we had been dealing with for many years.  It's a work in progress but we have come a long way since we began the process.

    Other neighborhoods in the ward, on both east and west sides, have improved significantly since Ald. Holmes’ election.  The Simpson – Ashland corridor has been revived with an attractive upgrade of buildings once used for small manufacturing and the shuttered Fannie's restaurant. The area has attracted designers, tech businesses and a number of other small businesses, as well as loft apartments.  BooCoo Cultural Center on the corner of Church St. and Dodge Ave. is a huge asset to the community and fills a need for a gathering place for ETHS students after school. 

    On the East Side, Foster St. has new businesses in a strip of buildings that were vacant for a long time.  Maple Ave. south of Foster also has a new beauty salon, SLK, soon celebrating its first anniversary, and a restaurant in the works.  Landlords in our neighborhood have upgraded their properties, with Ald. Holmes supporting the efforts of strict property standard regulations by the City.

    Delores Holmes has a long history of activism in Evanston, and one would think that after so many years of working 24/7 as 5th Ward alderman she had earned a well deserved rest but she sees more that needs to be done and she is enthusiastic about continuing the work.

    These are just a few of the reasons why she should be re-elected to another term.  

    Barbara Blades
    John Blades
    Residents, Firemans Park Neighbors
    2111 Maple

    1. A tale of three aldermen

      I am a resident of the 1st Ward.  I agree with the Blades' comments about Aldermen Holmes – she is very smart, and she has done a lot of good for her ward and the whole city.

      I would like to address one of the Blades' comments:

      " Over the years our neighborhood has undergone a huge shift as older neighbors have moved or passed away and their homes have been sold to investors as rental properties.

      Some of these properties had been turned into rooming houses without permits, and Ald. Holmes introduced an ordinance that requires a hearing before a special use permit can be issued.  These conversions brought overcrowding and other problems.  Eventually neighbors contacted Ald. Holmes, who quickly responded and organized a meeting to hear us out and subsequently she began to include the City of Evanston, the Evanston Police Dept. and Northwestern University officials in a dialogue with us to improve conditions that we had been dealing with for many years."

      I can understand why residents would not want houses to be converted into rooming houses.  Still, there are many students – and post-docs and others – who need to be near Northwestern University or Evanston Hospital. They need to have a place to live.

      Alderman Holmes has worked with   residents like the Blades,   the students and University administrators  to find solutions.  The same can be said of 7th Ward Alderman Grover.

      Any solution must include providing more housing off campus, including rental properties.  

      Alderman Holmes and Grover both supported construction of the rental units on Central Street where the theaters used to be.  The vote was 8-1.  

      Aldermen Holmes and Grover both supported construction of rental units at Emerson & Maple, the Carroll  Place project.  The vote was 7-2.

      The third University-area alderman, Judy Fiske, opposed both projects, and has a long history of being hostile to students, the University, and development in general.

      As long as people need to work near the University and hospital, there will be a need for inexpensive housing.  If Judy Fiske had her way ( fortunately, she loses most votes by 7-2 margins), there would not be any new rental options.  

      This does two things:

       1.  It pushes up  rents, thereby making it more attractive for people to turn houses into rental units.  

       2.  Consistent opposition to development means higher taxes…so fewer people can afford to maintain a single family home in Evanston.  It makes more sense to sell it to a landlord.

      Delores Holmes is a great alderman.  Jane Grover is not bad.  Judy Fiske is awful.

      1. But wait, there’s more….

        I wrote:

        "This does two things:

        1.  It pushes up  rents, thereby making it more attractive for people to turn houses into rental units. 

        2.  Consistent opposition to development means higher taxes…so fewer people can afford to maintain a single family home in Evanston.  It makes more sense to sell it to a landlord."

        I forgot a few more things:

        3.   As long as their is a captive market for housing, the existing Evanston slumlords who prey on students will have no competition, an no incentive to maintain or improve their properties.  Why would a landlord invest in updating rental housing if he can charge high rents, and have no problem filling units, due to the shortage of rentals near the University?

        4. If rentals for students are not allowed downtown or on Central Street, maybe Northwestern will build them on campus.  This means no property tax revenue for the city.

        5. If we want people to stay in Evanston after they have graduated from NU or Kellogg, they need a place to live.  They are not going to purchase R1 houses, or even condos  – even if they have the money – that will tie them down.  Do we want young people to move to and live in Evanston?

        1. and more

          I mentioned that former mayors Lytle and Morton are on the list of Tivador supporters, as well as Alderman Burrus and the Director of the Evanston History Center.

          I forgot to include Dick Peach ( President, Board of Directors , Evanston Chamber of Commerce) and   now I see Jeffrey Schoenberg on the list.

          There seems to be a consensus among all responsible leaders that Dr. Tivador would be better than Judy Fiske.  No wonder that Fiske won't appear at League of Women Voters or Reporters forums.

          Maybe Mayor Tisdahl can explain why she is supporting Alderman Fiske.

  3. page 7 of the State of the City

    Mayor Tisdahl says:

    "Relations with NU are strong. They are giving fabulous support to ETHS and District
    65. There are issues and there will always be issues. NU seeks to grow on a finite
    amount of land; improve attendance at football games by playing a game at Wrigley,
    home I point out of the loveable losers; and bring large numbers of eighteen year olds to
    Evanston, away at last from all parental supervision. There will always be issues. The
    city seeks greater participation by Evanston residents and Evanston businesses in the
    work resulting from all the new construction. We want to retain NU businesses that are
    incubated on campus and outgrow their space. Evanston businesses want to benefit
    from NU’s yearly purchasing power."

    This all makes sense…so why, Mayor Tisdahl, are you supporting the re-election of Alderman Judy Fiske, the notorious anti-Northwestern, anti-development NIMBY?

    I see that former mayors Morton and Lytle are on the list of supporters for Dr. Tivador  (as is the Alderman from the 9th ward and, most amusingly, the Director of the Evanston History Center)

    Tisdahl continues:

    "There’s news on the Wrigley Field issue. If Wrigley is reconstructed and can
    accommodate a football game, that’s a big if. Then President Schapiro assured me that
    Evanston will keep 6 home games a year at Ryan Field. Only when there is a 7th home
    game will one be played at Wrigley and it will not be against a marquee team that sells
    out."

    Again, thanks for recognizing  how much Northwestern contributes to our economy – each home football game brings in not just ticket taxes, but taxes for restaurants and hotels in the City.  Even 'non revenue' sports bring in lots of revenue – I have often seen tour coaches in front of the Hilton Garden Inn that are decorated with the logos of other Big 10 schools – visiting times and coaches contributing revenue to our city.

    Again, I am puzzled by Tisdahl's support for Alderman Fiske. 

    Consider Fiske's opposition to the apartment project on Central Street .

    One of her silly arguments against the project was;

    "Fiske said she was concerned that, as a rental development, the project, dubbed The Eastwood, would attract more student tenants, and that, in turn, would mean more turnover and congestion in the area at move-in time."

    Congestion at move in time?  First, Fiske doesn't seem to understand that, unlike NU dorms which open up just a few days before classes start, there is no one 'move-in time' for privately owned apartments.  Some students will stay all summer, some will come in at the beginning of the month, some will come in at the middle of the month.  And even if this 'move-in day' exists, and creates congestion, it would be the same 'move-in day' that all of the other apartments in Evanston have.

    More importantly, the 'congestion of move in day' – even if it did exist- is nothing compared to the congestion of a home football game or basketball game.  I wonder if Tisdahl, like Fiske ,  would be happy to see less congestion on Central Street.  Perhaps Northwestern can move some more football games to Wrigley or Soldier Field…and I suspect that the Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State games would sell a lot of tickets at the United Center.  Who cares about the ticket and hotel revenue?  The neighbors don't want congestion.

    Mayor Tisdahl admits that NU sporting events bring in lots of money for the City, so why does she support an alderman who repeatedly picks fights with NU?

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