Faulty Budget Process

For some time we have been hearing about how the City of Evanston cannot afford to do anything. Why is that?

I believe the City has become accustomed to reaping fat building permit and tear down fees and has been living off these for far too long and not planning for the eventuality when those become non existent. “Go ahead and spend it! There will always be more coming in!” NOT!!!

In our personal budgets we have all had to make adjustments given the current economic conditions we find the country in. I am not sure the City has made those same adjustments. Historically, if money was allocated in a budget for something, the push was to spend it; otherwise you would not get it again in the next budget.

I would suspect that in the past the City budget was put together by taking last year’s budget and adding a factor for inflation, say 5% to 10%. This process needs to be stopped.

The budget needs to be put together from the ground up starting with zero. All those departments seeking funds should put together their piece answering the questions “What do you want to spend?” “Why?” “What are the justifications?” “How will the results be monitored and measured?”

Each of the funding requests should be completely scrutinized. We need to know what we are getting for our money, our return on investment if you will. Each of these requests should have a measuring stick so they can be monitored. If they are not measuring up, then they are done. Funds are withdrawn.

I am sure the current budget contains many, many funding requests where the return on our investment has been or is extremely poor. The budget needs to be brutally reviewed and cuts made; and I am not talking 1% here or 2% there. The cuts will have to be draconian. There can be no sacred cows; all items are fair game. Very likely there are some programs that need to be eliminated altogether.

It is my understanding that we are providing some services that the county is already providing. Why the duplication? What is the justification? What is the return on investment?

We need to put together a citizens group to review the budget and help the City cut the waste and pork barrel projects/programs. It will not be an easy or pretty task but it needs to be done. We must live within our means. We cannot continue to just increase property taxes. Perhaps taxes should be down due to the decrease in housing values.

If you have ever questioned the City’s spending habits, feel we are not getting enough for our taxes, and would like to be part of the review process please contact Central Street Neighbors Association (CSNA) at (847)560-5600 or leave a comment on this web site.

We welcome all help. Budget expertise is not a requirement; research and obtaining Freedom of Information assistance would be helpful.