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At the Aug. 3 Rules Committee meeting, aldermen, the Mayor and the new City Manager were told that Evanston did “pretty well” in securing stimulus-package funds without a lobbyist in either Springfield or Washington, D.C.
Federal stimulus funds come in the form of competitive grants or “formulaic” funds, said Dave Davis of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s office. In addition, some funding comes through state grants, he said.
Demographics play a large part in the allocation of some of the funds. “Cities with more low-income individuals receive more funds,” Mr. Davis said.
At the state level, said State Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg, “federal stimulus dollars work in concert with the first State of Illinois capital [spending] bill we’ve had in ten years.” The Evanston community received funds for transportation, water plant infrastructure repair, school building improvements and grants for not-for-profit organizations.
In addition to the funding already received or likely to be on its way to Evanston, the City has applied for funding for at least two other programs: the Neighborhood Stabilization program and an energy-efficiency, small-business loan program.
Last month, City staff submitted an application for nearly $40 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funds, which would be used to purchase nearly 100 foreclosed properties on the City’s west and south sides and to implement part of the West Side plan. In addition, the City hopes to be able to participate in a program that would give interest-free loans of $3,000-$10,000 to small businesses to increase their energy-efficiency. (See story on page 10.)
Funding for Evanston, Pending or Received
The following Evanston organizations and purposes have received or will receive these amounts:
$750,000 to the City for renovating Robert Crown Center. Sen. Schoenberg said it had been determined that funding repairs to Crown Center was preferable to funding a joint City-Evanston Township High School recreation center;
$350,000 to the City for repairs and improvements to water plants;
$1 million to District 65 for improving the energy-efficiency of some buildings;
$610,000 in emergency road repair funds for resurfacing Emerson Street from McDaniel Avenue to Asbury Avenue;
$1.8 million in Illinois EPA funds (still pending) for water infrastructure improvements;
$1.6 million in additional motor fuel tax funds;
$200,000 to the Youth Job Center for building renovations;
$250,000 to Access Community Health Care Center for building relocation and expansion;
$200,000 to Evanston History Center to renovate the building and help bring it to code compliance;
$300,000 to Family Focus for an accessible elevator;
$250,000 to Youth Organizations Umbrella to replace and expand its facility;
$35,000 to Carepoint for facility improvements
$5 million to Northwestern University for equipment for its Science and Technology Center; and
$35,000 to Northwestern University for infrastructure improvements to the Fiedler Center.
Sen. Schoenberg and State Representative Julie Hamos were instrumental in securing some of these funds.
The recurring question of whether the City should hire a lobbyist arose again at the Aug. 3 meeting. Sen. Schoenberg said he thought the City should not have a lobbyist.
Mr. Davis said he had “no opinion” but that Evanston had done well in securing stimulus-package money. Northwestern has two lobbyists, he said.
In responding to a question from Fourth Ward Alderman Donald Wilson, Sen. Schoenberg said that Northwestern’s receiving such a large amount of funding did not diminish the amount the City received.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who has advocated for a lobbyist since last year, when she was an alderman, said the legislators did a “great job [for the City]. You did better for us than we could [have], but I’d still like to have a lobbyist in Springfield.”
Before he was elected Cook County Commissioner, Larry Suffredin was the City’s lobbyist in Springfield.
The back-and-forth between the Mayor and the Senator continued. “Most of the mayors [in the Illinois Municipal League] have lobbyists,” Mayor Tisdahl said, but Sen. Schoenberg repeated, “I don’t think we need a lobbyist.”