Leaders of several Evanston religious congregations are organizing a rally this evening outside the Civic Center to protest nearly 60 percent of the cuts proposed in next year’s city budget.

The organizers, in a social mdia post, say they’re objecting to the proposed closure of Fire Station 4 and the Gibbs Morrision Cultural Center and to cuts in Health Department funding.

Restoring those cuts would put a $2.5 million hole in the city manager’s proposed budget, which now calls for $4.3 million in expense reductions and $3.3 million in increases in taxes and fees.

The organizers include Rabbi Andrea Coustan London of Beth Emet Synagogue, Pastor Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Church and Pastor Daniel Ruen of Grace Lutheran Church.

In their call to protest they don’t voice objections to the elimination of eight police positions in the police department or the proposed elimination of wage increases for non-union city employees or several other proposed budget reductions.

They do say that “if given the time and space to deliberate and discuss, we will wholeheartedly work with the city to find new sources of revenue, identify immoral budgetary exceptions and remove wasteful spending.”

At the direction of aldermen, the city’s proposed budget avoids imposing a property tax rate increase for 2019. If a $2.5 million budget gap were to be closed through the property tax, it would require roughly a six percent rate increase to do the job.

The rally is planned for 5:30 p.m., a half hour before the scheduled start of City Council meetings.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz indicated at Saturday’s budget meeting that he plans to restore one of the health department cuts — the job of the communicable disease specialist, which is required to qualify the city for some state funding.

And some aldermen have said they want to find ways to keep the Gibbs Morrison Center open.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Knowing that Evanston is the

    Knowing that Evanston is the 7th most taxed community in the COUNTRY, what do these organizations suggest should be cut from the current budget to achieve balance?  We can’t keep raising taxes–have you noticed how long it is taking to sell houses and rent apartments?  We claim we want affordable hoiusing yet do nothing from a governance perspective to actually have affordable housing.  I’m all for saving the fire station–find the money to save the fire station by cutting somewhere else.  Aren’t there ANY obsolete programs that should be sunsetted?

    1. How long does it take to sell houses?

      What is your basis for implying it takes a long time to sell houses in Evanston?  Are there data about how long houses are on the market?  On my street of bungalows and two flats five houses sold in four months.   This is only a snapshot/example maybe an exception but what is happening in the rest of Evanston?

      Everybody wants to save what is important to them but nobody has any concrete ideas of how to make cuts.  This leaves only one option, raise fees to cover the debt.

      1. Selling houses

        2 houses for sale in our neighborhood….one since February, one since April.  The house on the market since February has had a total of 6 showings in 8 months.

        Our realtor friend has stated this is the case in Evanston and along the north shore.   According to her, houses sell quickly if you are willing to take a financial loss though.

        1. Data on Evanston single family housing market

          If you look at the data, it looks like there might be a bit of an uptick in the days on market for single family homes in Evanston.  Perhaps the increasing mortgage rates are cooling demand a little.  It is very seasonal though, with houses staying on the market much longer over the cold months.    Data provided from Redfin can be seen here.

          It looks like the sale to list ratio might be going down very slightly, data here.

          1. Thank you for links to sites for data

            Dan, thank you for the links. Helpful to have data available instead of relying upon anecdotal information. Political leaders in Evanston, including school board members and administrators, should be encourage and required to make evidenced based decisions instead of emotional and politically motivated decisions. We’ve seen how Trump uses misleading information and appeals to his base. 

          2. Data/house sales

            Hi Dan–

            Thanks for sending over.  Our realtor friend agrees with your data.  She also points out that the house that was purchased in 2015 for $500,000 in Evanston will likely sell for around $475,000 if the intenet is to sell in a relatively timely basis.  If that homeowner wants to sell their house for $525,000 (an appreciation rate below the rate of inflation) that house will take months to sell.

            In short, she stands by her statement.

            Thanks for sharing.

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