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Piven loan dropped from budget amendments

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Evanston aldermen Monday night sliced the size of a budget increase from $6.6 million to $4.4 million by dropping a planned loan to the Piven Theatre Workshop for Noyes Center renovations.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she was "very concerned" about having the loan proposal in the budget amendment.

"I'm not saying I'm opposed to the project," Rainey said, "But I don't think the Piven issue has been resolved."

Rainey added that adjusting the city budget to provide for the loan "would send a depressing message to those who strenuously object to the Piven deal."

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that in view of the concerns, "We're happy to take it out."

Bobkiewicz said the staff was just trying to bundle as many anticipated budget changes as it could into a single proposal.

With that change, the City Council approved the budget amendments on an 8-0 vote.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, was absent from the meeting because, as Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced, she's on her honeymoon.

The decision to drop the budget amendment for the Piven loan doesn't resolve the broader issue of whether the council will approve the Piven project and the loan could be included in a future budget amendment.

The amendments as approved include $2.3 million in additional spending in the capital improvement fund. Most of that represents an increase in street resurfacing projects and new funds to cover the failure to receive a grant for part of the cost for the Davis Street streetscape project.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said the revised city budget will now total nearly $252 million. He said the changes would have little impact on second installment property tax bills to be issued later this year.

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