Regrettably I cannot attend tonight’s meeting, however, given the importance of the budgetary issues being discussed I feel it my responsibility to communicate my thoughts to the citizens and my colleagues.
SP2-SP3: Authorizing Bond Issues and Amending Budget Policy
Bonds - Given the ongoing financial decline of our state budget, the constant calls for financial assistance from my constituents, and our city’s looming budget deficit, I have many concerns over the request to bond $50M for Crown. While I understand the need to renovate Crown (and many other city facilities) and applaud the great efforts to subsidize the cost by Friends of Crown, it would be my preference that we make more efforts to raise revenue prior to bonding. Without the ability to vote on the matter tonight, I respect the careful consideration that my peers will give this issue and will continue to propose more revenue generating ideas next week.
In addition, I voice my strong opposition to EPLs continued discussion to request $10M in bonds for the renovation to their main branch given tonight’s request for $2.1M in financing (1.25 for a branch at Crown and the remaining for main branch renovations)
Debt Limit - The City of Evanston currently holds $113M in unabated debt and is looking to increase this limit to $150M; this is not including our unfunded pension liability. Increasing our debt limits puts us at risk for decreased credit rating, potentially paying higher interest rates, and the ability to borrow less money in the future. It is my goal that we would look to thoroughly examine a pay-as-you-go capital improvement plan; consider liquidating city assets (like the recycling center), and imposing spending restrictions. Without such measures in place and our shared commitment to not increase taxes, we risk a repeat of Crown - a major capital need without sufficient financing options.
A15 – Termination of lease at 2222 Oakton & RFP/Sale
I do not agree with the proposed RFP timeline provided in tonight’s packet. This 9-10 month process only prolongs our ability to liquidate the building and use the funds for things like designated capital improvements, debt repayment, or pension payments. I do not support the City going into another lease agreement given the ineffective execution of the current lease and the previous lease with The Evanston Arts Center. In addition, acting as a lessor would likely require the city to invest money into the building to repair the parking lot as was laid out in the current lease. This is money we simply do not have. I regret not being present to voice my strong support for the sale of this building.