Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to review a staff plan to trim the city’s capital spending this year by enough to reduce its total unabated general obligation bond debt by about 1 percent.

The city now has about $101 million in such debt — a number that bond rating agencies have noted is higher than average for a community of Evanston’s size.

The city will retire about $7.3 million of that debt this year, and by postponing some projects and eliminating others, the staff has trimmed the request for new project funding for this year to $6.2 million.

A staff memo describing the projects still recommended for funding paints a picture of several city facilities in desperate need of attention. Among the proposals:

  • $500,000 to replace the roof of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center that’s described as showing signs of imminent failure and repair the main chimney and a masonry wall of a basement entry that’s described as being “in danger of collapse.”
  • $590,000 to renovate the national landmark fog-signal houses at Lighthouse Park that are described as in danger of falling down.
  • $220,000 to cover the city share of money requested from the state to replace the greenhouse at the Ecology Center that is said to be in danger of collapse.
  • $450,000 to replace the main west entry stairs at the Civic Center, which were torn down last fall because of structural deterioration, to replace the building’s fire safety pump and make other life-safety improvements.

In addition to the projects funded through unabated general obligation bond debt, the city plans to pay for another $24 million in capital improvement work this year through general obligation debt that has a specific, non-property tax revenue source and from current revenues and reserves.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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