Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this morning’s City Council budget workshop.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Budget
    No other city this size has a main library and two branches. Why isn’t someone talking about what it will cost to maintain the branches? Look at ADA costs. and we don’t own South branch, so are we going to fix it up and then move out in a year?

    Why cut a program manager at Levy Center (someone is in the job) and talk about closing the Ecology Center but not eliminate vacant positions at Fleetwood Theatre? When was the last time any council member went to a Fleetwood play?

    1. Aldermen Cave to Pressure
      Once again we have a City Council that can’t take the heat for making decisions that may be unpopular with some portion of the electorate. Or which may “look bad.” Instead of making hard choices about the budget and recognizing that some services simply must be cut, they had a budget process which seemed to be entirely about taking items off the cut list. And only items which might be “politically incorrect” to cut. Keep the shuttle bus to the Levy Center (but never even ask how many people are making use of the service.) Keep the Fleetwood Theater position. Keep the branch libraries. Keep the Ecology Center. What do they want to cut? Only the positions at the City that the public doesn’t see and therefore won’t complain about.

      I didn’t hear one alderman ask any questions about what it will cost to maintain the branches for another year or beyond (e.g making South Branch ADA accessible). I don’t believe any of them actually think there will be a viable solution to funding the branches, they just don’t want to have to make the decision to shut them right now. They don’t want to take flak from the thousand people who signed the petition (most of whom don’t actually use the branches, they just like the idea of them in principle.)

      It’s obvious that the City Manager proposed the additional $1.5 million in cuts because he knew that the original $9.5 million he proposed weren’t all going to be accepted. So he found some more stuff to propose so that, after they eliminate things like the branches and about 2/3 of the second set of cuts, they’ll end up with a total figure of around 9.5 mil. And we’ll have to go thru the same circus next year when the branches are on the chopping block AGAIN.

  2. Sadly disappointing
    After all the careful analysis, the citizen budget workshops and the clarity that we must cut some costs, rather than raise revenue, the aldermen have for yet another year caved in to the loud small group of branch supporters, this time based on a myth that there is some way to have this not very good service without it costing anything. Really – could we stop being crazy?

  3. Property Tax—Surprise !
    Within a day to two if not already people will be shocked by the new Property Tax bill. As it states the percent of last years bill for this year would have been 50% but is instead 55%—a 10% increase.
    Supposedly it will “all workout in the end” [that is if it did not push you in to foreclosure] with the second installment. By dollar to doughnuts they will say “see you made it o.k. [at least we hope] so we can increase the rates/amounts in the next bill [so it will also be higher] and you will be able to pay that like you were [we hope] the last bill.”
    When you add to that all the taxes, fees, and under-cover levies the city and county will add outside of the Property Tax bill, to make-up for keeping the branches, A.V. studio, community art and the myrid of other things they are too weak-kneed to cut, residents will be fleeced again. Those on fixed/limited budgets will have to move, those who are well-off will move [tired of the constant hassle, questionable schools—c.f. Wilmette, Winettka–, crime, etc.]. What will be left—the ‘middle class’ which will find it harder to stay middle.
    One hope is we can get this city manager to takeover [replace] for the mayor and aldermen with people who understand economics so common sense can return—after many years.

    1. First Installment Tax Bill
      When I found out about this increase several months ago, I came public to let the taxpayers know.

      It is unfortunate but the legislators passed it without even the Township Assessors knowing.

      This is another reason I am running for Cook County Assessor.

      Please remember when you vote to vote for qualified people. We have too many elected officials that have virtually no qualifications.

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