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Evanston's Challenges and Opportunties

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Evanston is at a critical juncture, one that presents enormous challenges, but also opportunities. The City faces another year of tight budgets, unprecedented liability to its police and fire pension funds, and overdue investment in infrastructure. While I have a realistic perspective on the City's dire budget landscape, we must also look to new opportunities and resources outside the silo of government to identify solutions to Evanston's challenges.

When is a Budget Workshop a "Workshop?"

I had the opportunity to attend this past weekend’s 2009-2010 budget workshop conducted by City staff for both the City Council and interested citizens. The work and effort put forth by the staff along with their involvement and willingness to address all comments and questions should certainly be commended.

The “workshop” did not lack data, information and knowledgeable staff. What it did lack was a central question.

Here are a few highlights:

Mosquitoes and Evanston

Three years ago, I asked Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin for ideas on how I might contribute to public service. He suggested a trusteeship on the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD) board. “Mosquitoes?”, I replied, “What do I know about mosquitoes?” Experience as an entomologist was not required. Instead, I was asked to serve because of my financial background and my recent experience as President of the Democratic Party of Evanston.

Econ 101 - Water and Sewer Rates

At the Evanston City Council Budget Workshop on November 17, City staff presented a study on water and sewer cost of service rates and fees. A deficit is projected, primarily because water usage has declined by over 16% since 1998, resulting in less revenue. Given the large increase in rates to pay for the improved storm sewer system, is it any wonder that Evanston residents have cut back their usage?

Evanston Development Vision

With as many as four new “parks” in Evanston - Central Street, Main & Chicago Avenue, Kendall College,and a piece of the Research Park- the economy has done what the Evanston City Council failed to do, prevent an overbuilding of condo buildings.

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