Two budget forums were held recently; one on January 10, 2009 and the other on January 24, 2009. The public was invited to attend and offer comments/suggestions on the budget.

The 2008-2009 budget was $94,068,600. The proposed 2009-2010 budget is $91,631,200; a decrease of $2,437,400 or 2.6%. The 2008-2009 budget included a one time transfer from the General Fund to the Police/Fire Pension fund of $4,536,100. This was an attempt to start bringing down the under funded deficit. Removing that item means that in actuality there is a $2,098,700 increase year to year, or 2.2%.

This increase is the result of expected shrinking revenues (transfer taxes, building permits, etc.) and attempting to maintain current service levels as well as absorb a projected 5% wage/salary increase. To do this would require a 4.9% increase in property tax. In addition to this there would be a 10% increase in sewer rates.

At the January 10th meeting, the Mayor requested that City employees come to the next meeting and give suggestions as to what they could do to help the City in this crisis. It should also be noted here that as a result of the mass exodus that occurred because of the early retirement opportunity the City promised all employees that there would not be decrease in positions for the coming year.

On January 24th a spokesman for the fire union came in and said they were in negotiations since December and as a result could not offer any specific suggestions at this time.

A representative of AFSME was up next with the same response. The Teamsters, representing the police, and the paramedics followed with similar responses.

The Mayor kept asking if there were any other City employees that wanted to come forward and offer suggestions. No one approached.

The Mayor appeared to be dismayed with the lack of response from City employees. I light of that lack of response Alderman Moran suggested the idea of furlough days be considered. It was estimated that each day would save about $175K. The aldermen indicated they would also participate in any furlough days and take the same number of days off with no pay.

Also on January 10th the Finance Director had been asked to go back and see what could be cut from the budget to avoid the real estate tax increase.

On January 24th he came back with some accounting trickeries and reductions to meet that goal; shifting some expense to the Township budget or raiding their “surplus” for additional revenue, reducing wage increases to 3%, deferring bond issuances, as well as others.

One of the reductions was a cut of $10K in two training budgets that total $412K. This was for such things as diversity training, new employee training, sensitivity training, training for employees that require some level of certification, as well as others.

One of the aldermen seemed to be particularly incensed that out of $412K he could only find $10K and demanded he re-visit that analysis and come up with something more substantial. Earlier the same alderman had requested further details on a number of other items.

There is an additional public hearing scheduled for Feb. 2nd with it being brought before the Council for a possible vote on Feb. 9th.

We need to impress on the aldermen and the Mayor that the City MUST find enough savings and/or cuts in the budget to avoid the property tax increase. The citizens of Evanston are hurting just like everybody else and he City absolutely cannot simply continue to increase property taxes just because their revenues are dropping and they want to continue the same level of services and spending.

The next budget hearing, as I mentioned, is Feb. 2, 2009 at 7:00 P.M. I would urge everyone to come and voice their opinion on this.


Your comments are correct about the budget -but what about next year - when they have drained down the reserves, did not included the new raises, left out the pension fund increases due to the drop in the Market which they are now waiting to tell us in March after the budget is approved.
Also every year I have been here they are always short a several million dollars - they call it a "structural" problem with the budget.

Also what happens as other revenues shrink or Cook County holds back taxes.

It get worst next year - the water fund - does not have as much revenue due to conservation by citizens thus they are having trouble operating the facility not enough revenues to meet expenses.

The council members are NOT interested in
cutting anything - If you start to look close at the budget you will see that they are funding quite a few things that are really for special interests.( I am not talking about the Central Street library )

Why did they give 5 affordable housing groups - get
$16,000 each for administrative costs a few months ago?
Why recently did they approve $30,000 in fund to market affordable housing project that are not selling?

Also there are employees that could be eliminated - at the last budget hearing the stated they had 360 vehicles for the city they have about 850 employees - yet they did not even have a policy who could drive a vehicle home!

I do not think they are going to increase property taxes or water bills this - time - don't worry - wait till next year - after they all are elected - then they will raise them through the roof!