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Results from an online citizen participation survey regarding the City’s budget for the 2011 fiscal year show that residents feel that police and fire are the two top services provided by the City. The top choice for generating additional revenue was renting vacant space in the Civic Center. In an effort to gage citizen input for the budget process, the City of Evanston ran the survey on its website from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, closing the poll with a total of 1,114 votes.

Citizens who participated in the survey were asked to select their top five preferences in each of two groups: City services and cost-saving/revenue enhancement measures. Participants in the survey were allowed five votes to be used per list of choices for each of the questions.

The survey’s top revenue enhancement, “rent out vacant space Civic Center” received a total of 262 votes at 22.89 percent, followed closely with 22.26 percent by the choice, “Council stop spending money we don’t have.”  The source for the listing of revenue generation ideas on the survey came from the two resident budget input sessions held on Sept. 14 and 29. Cost saving ideas range from the reduction of outside consulting costs, a wage freeze for all, a proposed five-star hotel near the lakefront and the consideration of a sales tax reduction.

The top five choices for the most important services as ranked by participants in the online survey are as follows; police, fire department, library and library branches, street maintenance and water. Other notable choices were “rubbish removal,” which received 216 votes and “cultural arts” with a vote of 197.

The results of last year’s survey show the top choice to be “close the Township office and move it into the Civic Center,” with a vote of 650. This year the choice, “eliminate Evanston Township” received only 245 votes.

The survey was conducted by the City of Evanston and the results can be viewed at www.cityofevanston.org. This was an unscientific poll conducted to have citizen participation as part of the budget process.