Top items from tonight’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting: The Chicago-Main TIF project pulled for more revisions, and the committee approves buying an environmentally challenged property at 1801-05 Church St.

5:53 p.m. – Meeting called to order.

Minutes approved..

5:54 p.m. – Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, requests that the committee withdraw the Chicago-Main TIF district ordinance (Item A12) from the agenda because of a recent meeting with merchants and others that led to revised plans for the district.

Wynne says the plan for the TIF will need to be reworked and brought back for consideration at a future meeting.

The committee approves her request.

(More about the TIF proposal here.)

5:55 p.m. – Payroll approved.

5:57 p.m. – Bills and credit card payments approved.

5:58 p.m. – A3 – $57K contract with Jasco Electric for Sherman garage light pole replacements. Approved.

5:59 p.m. – A4 – GASB post employment benefits report. Approved.

6:00 p.m. – A5 – Authorizing the release of closed session minutes. Approved.

A6 – Authorizing the acquisition of 1801-05 Church.

Packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is here.

Story with background on this agenda item.

Paul Zalmezak of the city’s economic development staff says the property has been appraised at $340,000 and says it appears the city would be able to acquire it for about $150,000 or less.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks whether the city has communicated with the entity that bought the back taxes. Told no. City attorney says it’s too late now for the city to get in the tax sale process.

Rainey asks whether the state is letting communities acquire property through eminent domain in TIF districts these days. Zalmezak says he doesn’t know the answer to that.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, asks about what could be done with the property given the environmental hazards. Says if can’t build subsurface — it will greatly limit redevelopment opportunities.

Says west Evanston plan hasn’t been implemented yet. Says she thinks it limits redevelopment possibilities for the corner. What developer will buy it if can only build a slab building on the site.

Zalmezak says environmental remediation — removing the old gasoline tanks — would be done by the city — which would make it suitable for slab-on-grade construction.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says a lot of other buildings in the area are slab on grade now.

Asked by Burrus about the comparison of cost estimated for this property at around $75K for environmental remediation, compared to property across from the police station, where remediation cost was estimated at $150K.

Zalmezak says city has firm figures on the cost, the other property was only a preliminary estimate.

Rainey says need to know more about whether current owner really wants to sell. And whether he’s got the money to redeem the tax liability on it.

Approved 3-1. Braithwaite, Holmes and Rainey vote yes. Burrus votes no.

6:21 p.m. – A7 – Amending city budget to increase spending by $8.7 million.

Rainey says she’s opposed to closing the Howard-Hartrey TIF. Wants to see the proposed distributioon from the TIF to the other taxing bodies, proposed at $1.3 million, reduced to $1 million, to leave some room for future expenditures for infrastructure around the shopping center.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says the budget amendment can’t wait. Needs to be acted on tonight.

Lyons says can make the change that Rainey is proposing and stay within statutory obligations to the other taxing bodies involved.

Amendment to do what Rainey suggests is approved.

Resolution as amended is approved.

6:26 p.m. – A8 – Increasing capital improvement program spending by $4.6 million. Approved.

6:27 p.m. –  A9 – Adopting prevailing wage resolution. Approved.

6:28 p.m. – A10 – Appointing delegates to the Intergovernmental Oersonnel Benefit Cooperative. Approved.

A11 – Howard/Hartrey TIF surplus distribution of $1.3 million.
Rainey asks whether any of the money could be targeted to cover things like arts teachers that have been proposed for cuts.
Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says the base amount $644K required by statute to be distributed, the city wouldn’t have much leverage about. Says the additional amount might be more open to negotiation.

Rainey says when we’re giving up surplus money, a message ought to be sent with it.

Lyons says the city would have a year to talk with the schools about it before the money would actually be delivered to the schools.

The amount reduced, as previously discussed, to $1 million from $1.3 million. Approved.

6:32 p.m.  – A12 – Designation of the proposed Chicago-Main Tax Increment Financing District.

This item removed from agenda as discussed at the start of the meeting.

6:33 p.m. – A13 – Amending the Hotel-Motel Tax to allocate the money to the Economic Development Fund. Approved.

Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin says bed and breakfasts are subject to the tax.

6:34 p.m. – Meeting adjourned.

We’re trying a new technique with the live coverage tonight. If you’re following along, refresh your page occasionally to catch updates.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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