A few tough decisions and multiple homework assignments came out of the City Council’s Jan. 23 budget workshop. Aldermen cleared from the table – or, in the words of Third Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne, “removed as targets” of budget cuts – the Ecology Center, part of the police department’s summer program, and the program manager position of the Fleetwood-Jourdain theatre.

Supporters of the branch libraries received a one-year reprieve in which to come up with a funding plan to ensure not only that the branches would remain open but also that library service – which many aldermen and others have said they hope will be a branch library – would be extended to the City’s west side.

Council members discussed other proposed cuts and assigned the City Manager and City staff several tasks:

  • providing more information about the impact of closing the children’s dental clinic and how the nearly 2,000 low-income children would receive dental services;
  • coming up with ways to balance the budget, using other “scenarios” that would preserve the fire department’s overtime funding that allows full staffing of every vehicle every day;
  • looking at ways to keep the Evanston Community Media Center in full operation, including continuing talks with Evanston Township High School about relocating the facility there, in conjunction with ETHS’s media facilities; and
  • providing information about how much money a 1 percent property-tax increase represents for the City.

Aldermen delayed hearing about the capital improvement plans until the next budget workshop. That workshop is scheduled to begin immediately after the public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1 in Council chambers.