Public safety spending has grown from 46 percent of Evanston’s general fund budget a decade ago to 56 percent of next year’s proposed budget.

That growth is a key reason why City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has proposed what would be the first significant reductions in many years to police and fire staffing.

In the 2009-10 budget year Police Department spending including pension costs amounted to $27.7 million or 28 percent of the general fund budget adjusted to be comparable to current accounting rules. If cuts aren’t made, it’s projected to rise to $39.6 million or 34 percent of general fund spending next year.

Fire Department spending including pension costs a decade ago was $17.7 million or 18 percent of the adjusted general fund spending. If cuts aren’t made, it’s projected to total $25 million or 22 percent of general fund spending next year.

The 2009-10 general fund total has also been adjusted to remove spending for the library, which is no longer included in the general fund. With that adjustment, general fund spending totalled $97.6 million a decade ago and is projected to total $115.2 million next year, an 18 percent increase.

The general fund next year will represent about a third of the city’s total spending.

Bobkiewicz has proposed closing Fire Station 4, eliminating nine firefighter/paramedic positions, and eliminating a net five jobs in the police department. 

He’s also proposing cuts in most other departments, including laying off nearly a third of the workers in the Health Department.

If you’d like to develop your own proposal for next year’s general fund budget, the city has made an interactive tool available, called Balancing Act, that lets you explore different budget scenarios and submit your plan for consideration.

The City Council is scheduled to have its first formal budget discussion at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22. A series of informal community meetings about the budget continues through next Wednesday. (See the schedule at the end of this story.)

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Editor’s note: This story was revised on 10/19/18 to adjust for a 2016 shift in accounting rules that requires public safety pension costs to be included in the general fund budget. Recalculating the 2009-10 figures to add in the pension costs changes the starting-point percentages for each department.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Proposed cuts

    So I see that the major proposed cuts are in public service, health and safety of the taxpayers the city is supposed to serve.  What about in the administration’s bloated numbers?  No cuts there?

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