The City of Evanston’s efforts to close a multi-million dollar budget gap go public again Saturday morning with a three-hour citizen budget input session at the Robert Crown Center.

If you’re among the people who have taken the city’s budget survey since it launched earlier this month you may be left with the impression that the budget process has a lot in common with trying to change the tires on a car while the car is in motion.

Many of the questions ask you to endorse glittering generalities, like “determining the most cost effective way to provide” a service.

What, you’re opposed to “cost effective” service delivery?

Then there are the questions that ask you to make a snap judgment about whether some department can’t possibly bear the burden of any cuts.

“A 3 percent reduction in operating budget for police?” Heavens no! Crime will run rampant! Or, maybe it won’t. The survey gives no basis for reaching an informed decision.

Bottom line, it seems city staff hasn’t had the time to come up with a meaningful cost-benefit analysis for most of the proposals on the table, just three weeks before the city manager has to deliver a proposed budget to the City Council.

But hey, democracy is a messy process, and we’ll get to see some more of it in action on Saturday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Budget Survey

    I agree.  Not sure "putting everything on the table (or in a survey)" is really conducive to getting any meaningful responses.  Many of the items seem no-brainers that the staff should have just done or be doing–no need for citizen input, i.e., No. 2 Proper Employee Classification for Work Force or No.3 Salary and Benefits Model; No. 5, Enforcement of All Code Ordinances.  Just best practices for good government.

    Either the decisions have actually been made already  by staff or they are way, as you say, way behind on their work.  Either way this survey/citizen comment process could be seen as  more window dressing and not worthwhile.  Doubt that there will be any "Aha" light bulbs going off.

  2. Thank you for your coverage


    Your coverage of these issues is extremely valuable to the community. With 4 kids, i can't go to every City Council, District 65, District 202, Library Board, and other related and important meetings.

    Just not enough time in the day.

    Thank you.

    Thomas Paine 

  3. Wally’s Folly


    Your service to Evanston is immeasurable.  The timing of your commentary was perfect.  Wally Bobkiewicz provided another worthless exercise in self-promotion on Saturday morning.  When will he realizes that  he is viewed as ineffectual and incompetent? I wish he would admit that he follows these silly managment fads like priority budgeting for his own reputation rather than the benefit of Evanston.

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