As Evanston City Council members met to review the record-high 2024 proposed city budget Monday night, most of the residents who turned out to offer advice called for them to spend more.

Matt Cotter, co-chair of the Environment Board, drew applause from other environmentalists in the audience when he called for adding $1.5 million in spending to the sustainability fund.

He was joined by about a half dozen other climate activists calling for more spending on environmental programs.

Kemone Hendricks.

Kemone Hendricks, one of several speakers supporting the participatory budgeting program, says the city should devote at least 1% of its total budget — or about $4.5 — to that.

That would be an increase from the $3.5 million, including administrative costs, allocated this year for a test run of the program.

As submitted by the city manager, the 2024 budget doesn’t include a participatory budgeting component.

“My project didn’t get approved,” Hendricks said, “but I met other people who want to push it forward.”

Melissa Monitor

Melissa Monitor, chair of the city’s arts council pushed for more funding for the arts.

But Leslie McMillan, a member of the city’s Finance and Budget Committee, and a few other speakers , took a contrary view.

“My heart dropped when I first saw the budget,” McMillan said.

The city, she said, needs to make some cuts and get a much better handle on reserves.

“We need to learn to do more with less.” she added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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