Here’s a recap our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to begin about 7:50 p.m.
A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 7:47 p.m.
Mayor reads proclamation for National Preservation Month and tie-in to Frances Willard’s 175th birthday.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz reports volunteers are now staffing the animal shelter in cooperation with the police department.
Mike Vasilko, 2728 Reese, objects to resolution endorsing making state income tax increase permanent. Says it’s proof that elected state officials lie. Says City Council appears to be endorsing the misbehavior in hopes of getting some cash back from the state instead.
Betty Ester, 2031 Church, concerned about proposed changes to property maintenance code on agenda tonight. Says rental tenants shouldn ‘t be subject to more inspections than owners of single family homes. Says appears to be an effort to force people out of rental properties in the city.
We’ll note any items taken off the consent agenda.
- A 7 – Liquor license for Sketchbook. (amendments to be discussed)
- A 8 – Collection box regulations (amendments to be discussed)
- P 5 – 835 Chicago … off consent agenda at request of staff, postponed to date TBD.
- O 3 – 911 system funding
- O 4 – State income tax
Consent agenda approved.
(BTW, Alderman Burrus is absent tonight.)
Sketchbook liquor license
After some discussion of amendments — and determination that the ones requested are actually to a different ordinance regarding liquor license standards, the council votes to approve this license.
(Burrus arrives in time for this vote.)
Amended to start enforcement July 1 rather than Oct. 1 and prorate fees for first year.
Amended to limit operating hours (business owners agree to the restrictions).
911 System funding
Request to state legislature to hike the 911 charge on cell phones.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says he generally supports the idea. But says concerned that it amounts to a state tax collected by the state and doubts the city will end up getting the money. Thinks will be complicated to enforce, given the diffrences in where cell phones are registered.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says cell phone taxes overall are already above 15 percent, amounts to a big burden on the residents. Doesn’t think the resolutions are appropriate for a vote by the City Council.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says the charge on cell phone lines is not equivalent to the ones on land lines (It’s $1.50 on land lines — by local referendum — and $0.57 on cell phone lines — per state statute.)
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says people should pay the same fee whichever type of phone they use. Says mayor, who’s pushed for both resolutions is absolutely right on this one, and absolutely wrong on the next one (regarding the state income tax).
Wilson says he agrees with Rainey, but says when the state collects a tax they can do whatever they want — don’t have to give it back to us. Says doesn’t trust that the money will end up coming back to the city.
Fiske says no one is against 911 funding, but doesn’t feel comfortable imposing a tax that doesn’t have specific terms for it. Wants to make sure every dime goes to our own 911 system.
Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says she’s on the 911 committee, says are getting money back from the state (for cell phones) but the land line revenue is going away — proposal would be a way to stabilize funding. Says hasn’t see problem with this tax not coming back to the city.
Mayor Tisdahl says hasn’t been able to find a way to get legislation written that would guarantee that state won’t divert the money to other uses.
Approved 7-2. Wilson and Fiske vote no.
Resolution supporting extension of 5 percent state income tax
Alderman Grover says local state lawmakers are fine folks. Knows there is a high degree of distrust about how Springfield operates. Says the tax issue is separate from reform issue. Says if tax is allowed to drop it will cost Evanston money. Says tax is needed to right the state’s fiscal ship.
Wilson says he agrees that our representatives are leaders for positive change, but says the resolution would sent the wrong message to the legislature. Says legislature has to pass it to pay the bills — they got themselves into the mess, though and we shouldn’t be OK with having them go back on their promises. Says even this won’t be enough, not even close, but not right to say it’s OK.
Grover says “punishing” the legislative leadership will punish many other people who aren’t in Springfield.
Mayor says health director told her it would cost two staff positions in the city’s health department if the income tax dropped. And that’s only part of the cuts the city would face.
Says if income tax isn’t continued at its current rate the cuts to the city will be relatively devastating.
Rainey says concerned that the tax hits heavily on low income residents in the city.
Motion carries 6-3. Wilson, Rainey and Fiske vote no.
Call of the wards
Wynne…3rd ward meeting may 29 7p at Lincoln school
Holmes…5th Ward meeting Thursday at 7 at Fleetwood. That day at 4p.m. new gelato shop opens on Simposn.
Rainey … on property maintenance code … says city always adopts new international code when its available. Says tenants and rights organizations have been fighting for it for years.
Fiske … notes art department at Northwestern has moved into Roycemore School. Says its very compatible with the neighborhood.
Council votes to go into executive session.
Public meeting ends at 8:57 p.m.