Recap: Administration and Public Works Committee

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

The meeting is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

The virtual meeting is to be carried on Cable Channel 16, on the city’s YouTube channel and on the Evanton Now home page.

Update: It’s 4:45 p.m. and we’re still waiting for the meeting to begin.

Meeting  starts at 4:49 p.m.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, is chairing the meeting.

Minutes approved.

Aldermen are reading through the consent agenda.

Item A 12 — NU tailgainting permit withdrawn from agenda because the university is no longer seeking the permit. NCAA and Big Ten aren’t allowing tailgating this year because of the pandemic, says Deputy City Attorney Nicholas Cummings.

A15 — State of emergency extension. Off consent at request of Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward.

A 17 — Raising limit on tax-supported general obligation debt. Off at request of Suffedin.

A 18 — Budget amendment. Off at request of Fleming.

A 19 — 2020 general obligation bond issues

A 26, A 28 off at request of Fleming.

With those exceptions, consent agenda approved.

A15 — State of emergency extension.

Suffredin says he doesn’t see an advantage to having the state of emergency declaration.

Cummings says the extension gives additional powers to liquor commissioner and gives added powers for the health department regarding quarantining people.

Says not sure why was two month, rather than one month extension.

Suffredin asks whether anybody has been quarantined

Cummings say yes — certain people have been ordered into quarantine as a result of coronavirus.

Rainey says the additional liquor authority came from the state liquor commisson. Says she’s not sure why the extension. Thinks if there’s a state emergency the city code as a certified health department should be able to quarantine.

Cummings says it still gives additional authority.

Fleming says she’s uncomfortable with extending the state of emergency.

Cummings says the state’s new rules, if there wasn’t a local state of emergency, would have to have at least some participants in a public meeting to be at the Civic Center.

Suffredin moves amending the extension just to next City Council meeting July 27, rather than until Sept. 14.

That is approved.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, joins the meeting at this point. (5:30 p.m.)

A 17 — Raising limit on tax-supported general obligation debt.

Hitesh Desai, CFO, says hopes to keep the debt to $152 million, but needs some flexibility, so is asking for debt limit increase to $155 million. Don’t plan to use that extra $3 million, though.

Says if don’t then would not be in compliance with City Council rules, but no practical impact beyond that.

Approved 3-0 (Rainey has dropped off the meeting.)

A 18 — Budget amendment

Desai says Crown was over by $10 million and insurance was over by about $3 million.

Says didn’t know how much of the project would be done by the end of the fiscal year — ended up getting more done later than expected, so cost moved from 2018 to 2019 budget.

Lara Biggs, city engineer, says city entered into a guaranteed maximum contract. Says have had some unforseen soils cost that were really substantial. Are working with contractor to mitigate those.

Braithwaite votes yes. Fleming and Suffredin vote no.

A 19 — 2020 general obligation bond issues

Desai says total capital projects $34 million, almost half of that is refinancing existing bonds to get a better interest rate. That will provide $1.5 million in savings, he says.

Braithwaite votes yes. Fleming and Suffredin vote no.

Fleming says some people saw large increases in property tax bill. Need to better explain the questions to the public.

Fleming then changes her vote to yes.

Erika Storlie, interim city manager, says need to have balanced budget to be in compliance with state law. Says the $10 million for Crown is not an overage — says it was just a delay from the 2018 to the 2019 budget year.

A 26 – Liquor license change for American Legion

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Brett Hallogren of the Legion says they have plenty of space for social distancing.

Hopes for immediate approval because “we’re running out of summer.”

Approved 4-0.

A 28 – Liquor license for new owner of Chlli’s

Braithwaite says staff is remaining the same.

Approved 4-0.

A 2 – Amazon purchases

Approved 3-0. Suffredin abstatins

A 18 – 2019 budget amendment

Because Rainey was momentarily absent, committee decides to take another vote on this issue, on the assumption that the first vote should not have been taken.

Fleming says she voted no because of large increases. That said, says she doesn’t want the city to be out of complaince with state law.

Desai says the amendment is also needed tor be able to file the city’s audit for the year.

Approved 3-1. Suffredin votes no.

Meeting adjourned at 6:03 .p.m.

Planning and Development Committee meeting to start at 6:15 p.m.

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