Approved 2019 City Budget

Throughout this year I have spoken about the 2019 Budget at our monthly ward meetings, and as predicated, it was a tough budget season.

Beginning with the Priority-based Budget survey we released in May to the proposed budget presented this fall, our community (myself included) has been very concerned with the City of Evanston’s looming deficit, the proposed service cuts, and the 38 positions we looked to eliminate.

After LOTS of community input, long Council meetings, and passionate conversations, the Council adopted the 2019 Budget on November 21, 2018. As your elected representative, I worked to make decisions that represented your values AND those that I felt were the most fiscally responsible. I am not happy with the budget (I don’t think that any Council member is) and hope to launch a new budget process next year.

With the many Yes/No votes I cast and to continue my goal of open communication, I have summarized my votes on each budget item. If you have more questions, I am happy to answer via email.

I voted YES on:

Crossing Guards Outsource to Andy Frain for $620,662 
This allows the City to save administrative costs and the use of Parking Enforcement Officers as substitute crossing guards. ALL CURRENT GUARDS WLL REMAIN AT THEIR CURRENT LOCATIONS RECEIVING THEIR CURRENT PAY RATES. (I approved this for one year only, so we can ensure it is effective).

Resolution 82-R-18 (actually there 16 resolutions, 82-96)
The resolutions will abate the amount of the 2018 property tax levy needed to retire the outstanding general obligation debt. The City’s total abatement for 2018 is $5,872,660.

Evanston Public Library Levy
With a strong verbal "suggestion" that EPL close the Main/Chicago branch once Robert Crown Center is open.

Two Special Service Area Tax Levies
This is geographically limited.

Increase Water Rate/Decrease Sewer Rate
These rate changes cancel one another, so there will be no increase on your bill.

Moving Vehicle Parking and Storage Containers on Public Ways
Increase street permit for moving trucks/PODS from $100 to $120 (Five-day permit)

Parking in Predominately Residential Areas
Amends the permit renewal date and increases the residential parking permit from $15 to $30.

Parking Violation Penalties (effective January 1, 2019)
Increases the fine for a street sweeping violation to $75 with a $50 additional penalty if paid after the expiration of twenty-one (21) days following issuance of a final determination of liability. A policy change regarding towing procedures will accompany this change to reduce the financial hardship and inconvenience that vehicle owners currently endure as part of sweeping operations. This also increases the fine for an expired parking meter to $25.

Parking Meter Zones
Sunday enforcement from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - Increasing the rate of all two-hour meters from $1.00 per hour to $1.50 per hour. This also increases all long-term meters to $.50 per hour and all 20-minute meters from $0.25 to $.50 beginning March 1, 2019.

Real Estate Transfer Tax
Increases the Real Estate Transfer Tax for sales with a price of $1,500,000.01 or more. Here are the details: For sale prices up to $1.5 million, the tax remains at $5 for every $1,000 of value; from $1,500,000.01 to $5 million, the tax is $7 for every $1,000 of value; and for prices at $5,000,000.01 or more, the tax is $9 for every $1,000 of value.

Expediting Planning & Zoning Review and Building Permits
The proposal will create an application and fee schedule for expediting permit and plan review services.

Hotel-Motel and Vacation Rental Tax to Add Bed and Breakfast Establishments
Adds Bed and Breakfast establishments to our current Vacation Rental Tax

Licensing of Vacation Rentals
Increases vacation rental licensing fees to align with cost of administering the program.

Rental Registration of Rental Residential Buildings to Include Inspection Requirements and Add Accessory Dwelling Units  
Amends rental registration of rental residential buildings to include inspection requirements and the addition of accessory dwelling units. This amends the rental registration process to include a fee of $200 for the initial inspection and registration of existing dwelling units, including accessory dwelling units (ADUs)/coach houses, and a fine from $75 to $375 for renting an unregistered unit following the “amnesty period.”

Transportation Network Company Tax
Increases the fee assessed for a solo ride cents to $0.45 per solo ride in a transportation network vehicle. Wheelchair accessible rides are exempt from the fee and the fee assessed for a shared ride remains at $0.20 cents per ride. 

I Voted NO to the following:

Ordinance 123-O-18: City of Evanston 2018 Tax Levy

Ordinance 128-O-18, Amending Title 8, Chapter 4, Municipal Solid Waste and Increasing the Sanitation Service Charges
I have heard from apartment building owners and condo residents regarding this levy. They feel it double “taxes” them for trash.

Wheel Tax
This increases the annual wheel tax fees by $10 (new price $85). I voted no since this is a required cost to all residents. It can be a hardship, unlike parking tickets, which can be avoided.

Approving the 2019 Fiscal Year Budget of the City of Evanston
FY 2019 Budget of the City of Evanston, in the amount of $319,155,950. 1) Total expenditure $319,165,450; General fund expenditures $114,153,373. 2) Fund two full-time victim advocate position for six months, eliminate vacant victim advocate position, and include funds for six-month contract with the YWCA. Services to be reviewed by June 1, 2019.

I voted NO to the complete budget because (as I said in the meeting), I am not satisfied with the budget process and do not feel that we did a thorough job examining how we spend money prior to passing on that cost to the residents. Our unwillingness to cut costs on smaller items, such as the Merrick Rose Garden ($75,000) and staff auto allowances ($65,000) are examples of spending that I think deserve further examination (or total elimination). I support victim service advocates being fully restored and placed back at the Police Department as they were before the 2018 budget. I am not confident that the new configuration of service delivery will provide the service our citizens deserve.

City of Evanston sent this bulletin at 11/28/2018 03:06 PM CST