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Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.

The committee is scheduled to get a report on the Fire Department and how it might be asked to trim expenses as the city deals with a projected multi-million dollar budget shortfall for next year.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 6:12 p.m.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, is absent tonight. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, is filling in as chair.

Live streaming video of the meeting is available on our home page.

Minutes and payroll approved.

After some discussion, bills approved.

A 3 – Handyman services contract with Sa Goss & Associates.

Approved.

A 4 – Survey benchmark update contract with American Surveying & Engineering PC

Approved.

A 5 – Water treatment plant door renovation

Approved.

A 6 – Elcast lighting contract to repair street light fixtures

Approved.

A 7 – GarlandDBS contract fire station #2 roof replacement

Approved

A 8 – Garland/DBS contract Mason Park fieldhouse roof improvements

Approved

A 9 – South standpipe motor control center and building renovation

Approved

A 12 – IDOT agreement for Central Street Bridge Engineering funding

Approved.

A 13 – IDOT and Stanly Consultants agreement for Centrla Street Bridge Phase II Engineering

Approved. Federal grant to cover 80 percent of the $519K cost.

A 14 – Northern Illinois Police Alarm System agreement amendments

Approved.

A 15 – Lease termination 2222 Oakton and RFP/RFQ proposals

Alderman Cicely Fleming statement read by Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie

Says she’s in favor of direct sale of the building, rather than a new RFP process.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says Fleming’s arguement is “rather illogical.”

Says putting the property up for sale off the bat means the city losing control of the property. If lose control to somebody we really don’t know, Rainey says, could cause problems for the adacent James Park.

Says doing a lease-to-purchase agreement would give the city more control over the property’s future.

Says there’s little cost to maintaining the property in the meantime.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, says she agrees with Rainey, want to be more thoughtful about it’s future use.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says lease should require that lessee pay taxes.

Johanna Leonard, community development director, says because Smylie Bros never finished its site plan, the property has not yet gotten onto the tax rolls.

There’s only a short window in October when the city can tell the county to put the property back on the tax rolls.

Says had a meeting with Smylie Bros. on Friday. Expect to have a follow up meeting this week.

Suffredin says city is due a lease payment from Smylie Bros. on July 1.

Rainey says wants someone who is not a property-tax exempt user.

Committee members indicate that want to combine the RFQ & RFP process into one stage.

Leonard says expects a settlement agreement with Smylie Bros. to be presented by the Law Department at the next City Council meeting.

A 16 – Studio 220 Noyes Center lease agreement

Approved.

A 17 – 727 Howard lease amendment for Hip Circle Empowerment Center

Paul Zalmezak, economic development manager, says some electrical and ADA work was added to the project late.

Says tenant is paying twice as much as anticipated paying.

So total project costing bout $76K

Says building has been vacant for perhaps a decade and was in bad condition.

Says was chicken-and-egg issue. Had to get the lease approved before could put together the plans for the project.

Approved.

A 18 – Updating authorized signatories

Approved for introduction and action.

A 19 – Beer sample sale size limit increase to 32 ounces

Approved for introduction and action.

A 20 – Sunday liquor service hours to begin 10 a.m. (instead of noon)

Approved for introduction and action. 

A 21 – Liquor license reduction for closure of Cheesie’s Pub on Davis Street

Approved for introduction and action.

APW 1 – Fire Department Services Evaluation

Related story

Presentation

Fire Chief Brian Scott makes presentation.

Says 71 percent increase in calls over past 35 years.

Says EMS calls have been increasing faster than fire calls.

Evanston’s population has only grown by about 1,000 people over that time.)

Says Evanston has faster response times that comparable communities.

Says could cut public outreach programs, but they’re very effective.

Says could keep some positions now unfilled unfilled  into next year. That’s four people now. Would mean more overtime.

Says could reduce regular staffing — but that would likely increase response times.

Braithwaite says the community outreach programs are very important. Says department needs to better match the population.

Scott says the cost of the outreach programs totals about $75,000.

Braithwaite says would like to see some numbers with his budget proposals.

Simmons asks whether other agencies offer the CPR training and similar issues.

Scott says some do — but the city’s is among the most inexpensive.

Says the Fire Explorer program helps increase the diversity of the department.

Says holding open the four FTE positions would save about $600K/year, but some of that would be offset by additional overtime. (This is the step that’s already being taken in this year’s budget.

Says cutting one regular daily staffing position would save the cost of about 4.5 employees, after accounting for vacation time and other factors.

 Meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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