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Recap: City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting. Meeting called to order at 8:20 p.m.

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

Downtown Evanston and other business district representatives discuss upcoming "Shop Small" event this Saturday and tree lighting at Fountain Square.

Holiday trash pickup this week. No pickups Thursday. Friday pickups of Thursday routes for everything except recycling, that will be done on Saturday.

Also plan to extent street sweeping for an extra week, through Dec. 5. 

Public Comment

Michael Tannen, president of library board, says not going to dignify with a response the personal attacks on the library board members (made at APW meeting). Says have lived, collectively, in Evanston for more than 200 years.

Says 11 percent increase is a misleading metric because the library has been undernourished for years.

Junad Rizki says water utility situation out of control — says sees continual 10 percent increases in rates.

Nathan Haliburton, owner of Haliburton Funeral Chapel in Evanston, says vital records office isn't broken, don't need to fix it.

Says vital records shouldn't have to raise enough money in fees to cover its costs.

John Walsh, of Central Street Neighbors (recaps comments he made at AP&W meeting).

Jim Hughes, speaks in support of library budget increase. Says library is efficient in its use of tax dollars. Says Evanston needs to make further investments in library.

Tiffany Rice, with DaJae Coleman Foundation, praises the library's collaboration with the foundation on book discussions and other programs.

Ben Schapiro, library board member and retired librarian of 40 years, says public library serves everyone in the community, regardless of need.

Says library is moving seven part-time employees to full time status, and hiring three temporary employees for the summer.

Consent Agenda

Items taken off the consent agenda.

  • A3.1 – A Lamp Concrete contract for civic center parking lot.
  • A6 – 2015 city budget.
  • A8 – 2014 city tax levy
  • A10 – 2014 library tax levy
  • A11 – Water rate 10% increas.
  • A13 – 2022 Central Street lease for Lush Wine & Spirits.

Consent agenda approved.

Civic Center parking lot contract.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says Ozinga the concrete subcontractor on this contract has sued to bar women employees from having contraceptive coverage in their health care.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says based on that she'll vote against the contract.

Grover says Ozinga has been a good supplier, but am troubled by their position on the affordable care act.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asks staff whether there's time to investigate the issue further before voting.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says could hold it to the next meeting.

Based on that council holds action the contract until the next meeting.

2015 city budget

Amended by staff at request of APW commitee to remove the library budget from the city budget.

Alderman Rainey requests that defer action on this until after vote this evening on the water rate increase.

10 percent water rate increase

Rainey says 10 percent increase in anything in this budget is too much for people to bear. Water rates are regressive, everybody uses, regardless of their income, she says.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says a cut to a 5 percent increase would reduce revenue by about $315K. Says doesn't see easy way to trim that spending.

Burrus says would like to get more detail before making a decision.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says it's a large budget, would have to find something to cut — says he's not comfortable making any cuts to water capital improvements. Says are way behind on those. Think would be irresponsible to delay geting the water infrastructure work done.

Wynne says she agrees with Wilson. Says also need to show other  potential water customers that we're committed to maintaining our infrastructure.

Rainey says people can't open water bill and see $300 bill every other month. (Notes that it includes sewer and trash hauling.)

Alderman Tendam says he supports the 10 percent rate increase — notes catastrophic water main failure on Central Street a couple years ago.

Vote on the 10% water increase … carries 5 to 4 with Braithwaite, Burrus, Holmes and Rainey voting no.

2015 city budget

$257M after removing library budget.

Budget approved unanimously as amended.

200ml liquor bottle size

Approved.

2014 city tax levy

Approved.

2014 library tax levy

Burrus says nobody's disputing that the library does good work in the community. It isn't about doing good work — it's about financial responsibility. An 11 percent increase is not financially responsible.

Says only one library board member lives in or near a CDBG area that is low income. Says substantially increasing the tax levy does hurt the most vunerable members of the community.

Rainey moves to hold the levy vote. Burrus seconds.

Wilson says finding a common ground is a useful idea, but says there are a lot of troubling things floating around. Says city council is trying to manage the business of the city — difficult because we're underwater in so many ways — infrastructure, pensions. Says its difficult to make decisions.

Says last meeting voted to approve Divvy bicycles, but he voted against. But he's voted for other things that other people have opposed.

Says does feel that library budget is more honest. Going to a pay-as-you-go model is going to cost more. Facilities all over the city haven't been adequately maintained. Library is a spectacular facility — says they don't have adequate staffing to do all the things they need to do. Says other libraries often offer much greater services. Says Evanston is doing as well as can be expected, given the resources they have.

Says idea that they're not being responsible, isn't really fair.

Mayor says motion to holdover can be defeated by a two-thirds vote of the council.

Rainey says she was on the council when vote to build the new library was taken.

Says everybody has to maintain infrastructure — but we required the other city departments to make 3 percent budget cuts.

Wynne moves to overrule the hold. Motion fails 5-4, because it required a two-thirds vote.

So issue is held until a special city council meeting to be held next Monday night.

Lush Wine and Spirits lease — 2022 Central St.

Wilson raises concern about detail of lease term — who decides — tenant or city — what the city subsidy for improving the building will be.

Would-be tenant says preliminary estimate for vanilla box work is $175K.

Wilson withdraws his request for a delay in the vote.

Approved 7-2. Fiske and Wilson votes no.

Final action on …

Single family home special use at 1513 Greenleaf.

Approved.

Special use for child daycare center at 1909-1911 Howard

Approved.

Call of the wards

Wilson requests special council meeting for next Monday.

Holmes requests special meeting on Domino's pizza next Monday.

Fiske announces 1st Ward meeting Tuesday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. at EPL

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz suggests Rules Committee at 6 p.m. with Special City Council at 6:30 p.m. and Human Services Committee at 7;30 p.m. Thanks staff that worked on city budget.

Holmes mentions prayer service for Ferguson at Unitarian Church, 1330 Ridge at 7 p.m. tomorrow. (Would have been tonight if the grand jury decision hadn't been released until very late today.)

Meeting adjourned at 10:16 p.m.

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