Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington this week, says she’s prospecting for federal aid and learning that the city’s water plant could be something of a gold mine.

The mayor says her main goal at the meeting is to talk to officials in the federal departments of labor, commerce and housing and urban development to learn how to best position Evanston to get federal support for programs to help at risk youth and create jobs in the city.

And she says she’s been learning about how changes in clean water laws may affect Lake Michigan and how other communities use water as a tool for economic development.

“Lake Michigan is a tremendous resource for Evanston,” the mayor said in a statement. “The city can leverage its existing investment in water treatment facilities to sell water to area communities as well as attract businesses here who need a reliable, reasonably-priced source of water.”

“Mayors from neighboring communities throughout the northwest suburbs who currently receive water from the City of Chicago are very interested in talking with Evanston about their water needs,” Tisdahl added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. How about running the water department like a business?

    The Mayor in her campaigning stated she would get changes in the existing water contracts, never happen.

    Now she thinks there is gold in the water sales.  This is such a joke, The city is selling over 80% of the water it produces now to other users.  The contracts are a mess.  The City currently is misusing it water sales. 

    The whole operation is fiscally screw up, since proper assignment of new improvements is not being accounted over all the users, it appears Evanston rate payers are taking the full costs versus other users.

    The increases in water and sewer fees are not justified.  The City is bascially stealing 7 million dollars of the water and sewer funds to subsidize the general fund and parking fund.  The water department currently is generate enough revenue to keep its operation going without increases in our water bills. 

    The recent  15% increases in our water bills  was not needed.  The reason the increases are needed is the city is taking the funds out of the water and sewer budget.   Water rate payers, need to understand they are not just paying for water operation in their ever increasing bills but of other city services. such as police, fire, recreation etc.

    The water department management is forced to play along with the game, since the work for the city manager and council, they are claiming the need increases in water and sewer fees are needed for system repairs but the truth is the money is not being used for these purposes.  Thus the public is not being told the truth, in meetings.  The budget documents are correct they show how the money is being diverted.

    Mayor Tisdahl rather than making silly political speeches, needs to start working to correct operations, and start to have the city start to operate in a ethical manner.

  2. City docs to show diverted funds?

    Junad- can you post links to the docs that show the diverted funds? Thanks.

    1. The answers to your question is in the CAFA of the city

      The answer to your question is in the CAFA of the city of evanston – that is the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year ended Feb 28 , 2011

      I do not know how to add a link – to it maybe, Bill can help out here. it is on the city web site.

      For the transfer of the funds out of the Water fund go to page 146  shows a transfer of $3,286,800 then go to page 67 shows a transfer in of $3,286,800.  This practice I have been told has been going on for years when I talked to a former council member he just laughed about it.  A city staff member during a presentation called this a return on investment, the joke is if you are returning the investment should it not be lowering the water rates of the investors, rather than funding other city services?

      For the transfer of the funds out of the sewer fund go to p 68 under Enterpise funds – shows a transfer into the Parking fund of $4,000,000 and transfer out of $4,000,000 from the sewer fund. I heard a staff present this a borrowing, yet it puzzles me how they plan to pay this back.  Then I noticed on another page they took the money from the parking fund and transfered it into the general fund.  In talking to a current council member they explained this to me as borrowing.

      Wally and those before him have used these funds to basically keep property taxes low, and allowed the council to continue over spending.  Review the CAPA more and you will see other examples of questionable transfers. 

      Its a shell game.



      1. Read the report, Ponzi

        I found similar transfers (for almost identical amount of money ) in the CAFR for year ending Feb 2010.

        Here is what the report said, above the transfers:

        "Transfers are used to

        1) move revenues from the fund with collection authorization to the debt service fund as debt service principal and interest payments become due,

        2) move restricted amounts from borrowings to the debt service fund to establish mandatory reserve accounts,

        3) move restricted general fund revenues to finance various programs that the government must account for in other funds in accordance with budgetary authorization, including amounts provided as subsidies or matching funds for various grant programs. "

        So, Ponzi, is it possible that a transfer of funds from water to the general fund meets one of the criteria above?   And if is such a corrupt shell game, why would our corrupt and conniving alderman publish the details in the CAFR?  You would expect them to find a way to keep this kind of stuff secret.

        Enquiring minds want to know.

        1. Even if ‘legal’—-

          This seems highly dubious, sneaky, underhanded and a number of other descriptions—I hope the Attoney General and County Commissioners will investigate.

          But even if 'legal' the funds should be repaid to the proper funds and certainly residents should not get increases in water rates because the water/sewer fund does not have the money since it was transfered to another fund.

          The Council is trying to put things over on taxpayers all the while coming up with new ways to spend taxpayer dollars on their pet projects [or projects of donors/supporters] and telling the public the city has the money—when in fact it only looks that way because they robbed Peter to pay Paul.

        2. You miss the point about the misuse of budget funds

          Dr Who – you are missing the major point, that is the funds they are collecting from the water rate payers are not being used to operate or maintain the system but to prop up the general fund.  CAN YOU DISCUSS THE REAL ISSUE, VERSUS OTHER ISSUES NOT RELATED!  Are you OK with this?

          They are setting the rules, all you are pointing out is they are claiming it is OK to transfer the funds, they did the same thing recently when they upped the borrowing limits, it basically allows Wally to use the funds as he see fit.   I am guessing Wally may try to use some borrowed funds next year to prop up the general fund we will have to wait and see.

          Just because the rules they pass, allow them to use the funds as they see fit, does not amount to anything.

          Unethical, subject to civil action or illegal, what don't you get here, my enquiring mind would like to know!


      2. Legal?

        Is it legal to do this ? Obviously unethical to lie to tax payers. Have any of the aldermen stood up to this practice? Do they all know about it?

  3. Water Rates Compared to Nearby Communities

    "Evanston water rates will also be lower than those for 28 other communities checked by city staff. The only lower rate identified is in Highland Park where water will cost 3-cents less per 1,000 gallons next year than in Evanston."  Source:

    Is the rate we are paying for water being compared with other community costs before or after the (approximate) 150% tax on the combined water/sewer/garbage bill is added?  If the comparison is done before, then is it not the case that residents are paying quite a bit more in actuality for the water portion after the tax is added as compared to other communities?  When will this additional tax start being reduced?  Does anyone know the answer to these questions? 

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