Neighbors hear from city and school about referenda on the March 20 ballot

On Feb. 22 residents of north Evanston and the Central Street community had an opportunity to hear from city and school board experts and get background on the rationale for the referenda, as well as information as to what the referenda will mean for them as taxpayers, and for the future of our community. With standing room only, and an opportunity for Q and A, residents of the neighborhood were able to get a better handle on the rationale, background and implications of each of the referenda. (Right: Catherine Hurley, Sustainable Programs Coordinator for the City of Evanston).
Presentations included a full report with background on the advisory referendum relating to

the possible dissolution of Evanston Township by Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator for Evanston, Matt Swentkofske. This referendum will help guide the Evanston Township Board (the City Council) as it seeks a path to bring all services for Evanston under one umbrella. Because the city and township share boundaries, the immediate goal will be to explore whether the dissolution makes sense and can result in tax savings and efficiencies. Swentkofske provided a PowerPoint which is posted on the City website that provided context and background. It was noted that the state must still pass enabling legislation before any final decisions can be made. Many present asked about current services to residents, and raised concerns about tax appeals and related services.
Catherine Hurley, Sustainable Programs Coordinator for the City of Evanston, spoke about the referendum that would authorize the City of Evanston to arrange for electrical supply through Community Choice Electricity Aggregation. State legislation now permits municipalities to seek an alternative electrical supply. Some 75 communities in Cook County, and up to 200 around the state, are considering referenda on this in the March election. Hurley’s presentation showed how the city would proceed to become a buyer for electrical power and how this in turn could lead to lower rates (as demonstrated in one other city that has moved to a new supplier) and possibly be more energy efficient (or green). Com Ed would still handle all billing and delivery of power. The city has developed a presentation and additional background that can be found at the city website as well.

Katie Bailey, District 65 Board President (left) spoke to the referendum that seeks voter approval of a $48.2 million school bond that will raise funds to build a new elementary school and to provide for necessary repairs and upgrades to existing (and aging) middle schools. Richard Rykhus, a member of the District 65 Board also spoke and provided additional background and expressed concerns of members of the Board. The vote of the Board to bring the referendum to the voters was 5-2. District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy addressed many of the issues raised by audience members about the issues surrounding the referendum. There seemed to be a concern among attendees that the two issues – one of a new school, and the other to cover the cost of additions and maintenance to existing facilities – were combined into one referendum. Other questions went to the projections for school enrollment in coming years and the need for more classroom space. Speakers provided all in attendance with handouts that provided an FAQ and information on costs and demographics. This referendum evoked the most controversy and a good part of the meeting was devoted to discussion of the plans and the funding needs of the District. One point made was that the last capital tax increase was expiring and that the new anticipated tax for the bond requested in the referendum would be generally lower for most taxpayers. More information on the referenda and the forum can be found at this link: The City has posted information on the referendum to dissolve the township at: Background on Community Choice Electricity Aggregation can be found at the City website: This includes a link to the slide show presentation from the forum. District 65 has posted background information at its site. Additional links go to more detailed information on funds, demographics, expenses, and plans for the schools: