Public safety spending soars as share of city budget

Public safety spending has grown from 38 percent of Evanston's general fund budget a decade ago to 56 percent of next year's proposed budget.

That growth is a key reason why City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has proposed what would be the first significant reductions in many years to police and fire staffing.

In the 2009-10 budget year Police Department spending amounted to $20.6 million or 24 percent of the general fund budget. If cuts aren't made, it's projected to rise to $39.6 million or 34 percent of general fund spending next year.

Fire Department spending a decade ago was $11.9 million or 14 percent of the general fund. If cuts aren't made, it's projected to total $25 million or 22 percent of general fund spending next year.

The 2009-10 general fund total has been adjusted to remove spending for the library, which is no longer included in the general fund. With that adjustment, general fund spending totalled $84.7 million a decade ago and is projected to total $115.2 million next year, a 36 percent increase.

The general fund next year will represent about a third of the city's total spending and does not include the more than $22 million to be spent to fund public safety pensons.

Bobkiewicz has proposed closing Fire Station 4, eliminating nine firefighter/paramedic positions, and eliminating a net five jobs in the police department. 

He's also proposing cuts in most other departments, including laying off nearly a third of the workers in the Health Department.

If you'd like to develop your own proposal for next year's general fund budget, the city has made an interactive tool available, called Balancing Act, that lets you explore different budget scenarios and submit your plan for consideration.

The City Council is scheduled to have its first formal budget discussion at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22. A series of informal community meetings about the budget continues through next Wednesday. (See the schedule at the end of this story.)

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Proposed cuts

So I see that the major proposed cuts are in public service, health and safety of the taxpayers the city is supposed to serve.  What about in the administration's bloated numbers?  No cuts there?