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The City plans to look outside the tax box for donations from residents to enhance the fire and police departments and to raise money for a federally qualified health clinic (FQHC) for Evanston and Skokie residents.

“These [committees] would not be part of the City,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. “I don’t know
that Evanston residents want to support the City of
Evanston [with donations]. They will support the fire
department, the police department, parks and libraries.” He said the committees could be set up to accept donations and become not-for-profit organizations with a
fiscal agent.

Similar to foundations created to help public bodies raise money beyond tax dollars, these not-for-profit organizations can raise money for targeted use, said Mr. Bobkiewicz.

He said he thought the police and fire departments could each come up with a wish-list, so the committees could do specific fund-raising.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asked what would be on such wish-lists.

Police Chief Richard Eddington said the Northwestern University Police Department had donated some mountain bikes to the Evanston Police Department, and the Cherry Foundation had donated a T-3, an individual motorized vehicle. “The focus should be on manageable-sized equipment – a piece of equipment that costs less than $20,000 that is highly visible to the public and important to the City of Evanston. We need to be astute at selecting multiple pieces of equipment that resonate with the public.”

The Fire Department has a “long wish-list,” said Fire Chief Greg Klaiber, but added he would focus on technology. The thermal-imaging devices purchased 10 years ago could be replaced. “We’d like to update the seven we have and add at least two more. … We’re using five-year-old computers for EMS reporting,” he added.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, asked, “Do we run the risk of having people say, ‘Why doesn’t the City get rid of X and help the police and fire department?’”

“Yes, people will say this,” said Mr. Bobkiewicz. “So we’ll accentuate the positive. This whole idea is unconventional, but we’re in unconventional times.”

The health clinic is in a somewhat different situation, in that the City has applied for government funding to create it, and Erie Family Health Center, which would staff the clinic, is a not-for-profit agency. Since the City does not expect to hear until August whether its application has been accepted, “We can’t wait until August. We need to jumpstart this,” Mr. Bobkiewicz said.

Davon Woodard, development officer for the City, said 11 people would be on each committee. The Rules Committee members, to whom the concept was presented on Feb. 7, agreed that Mr. Bobkiewicz and Davon Woodard, the City’s development officer, should refine the idea and bring it to City Council.

Both public school districts have similar foundations and the City has the Evanston Parks Foundation. The Evanston Public Library Friends, with a grassroots rather than organizational foundation, has raised money to support library services over the past year. (See related story on page 14.