Council Chambers overflowed with citizens, with even the chairs outside chambers full of people watching the television feed, on Monday night, July 11. Nearly everyone was there for the discussion of certain City properties (See Chandler and Noyes Saved; Harley Clarke Expected to Be Sold story), and the remainder of the City’s business slipped by relatively quietly.
City Council honored outgoing library director Mary Johns, who has accepted a position in Sioux City, S.D. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz praised Ms. Johns for her “outstanding job during some very difficult times.”
The difficult times included shrinking budgets and the closing of the South Branch of the Library along with efforts to close the North Branch. Ms. Johns, who Mr. Bobkiewicz said, delayed a conference call with her future employer to accept her plaque, raced out of the chambers as soon as politeness allowed.
Council approved the purchase of Wilmette’s used animal control van for $19,700. The proposal had been held up due to concerns over the value of services (the picking up of roadkill animals) Evanston would provide Wilmette in exchange for a reduced price. Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said the agreement for provision of services had been removed from the discussion and the measure dealt with the purchase of the vehicle alone. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked if the City was still picking up dead animals in Wilmette. The answer was not clear, but Mr. Lyons assured the Administration and Public Works Committee that any agreement to do so would be entirely separate from the vehicle purchase agreement. City Staff estimated that a new truck would cost about $45,000, making the used vehicle a bargain.
The City accepted a grant of services from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning in order to staff a water efficiency project. Catherine Hurley, the City’s Sustainable Programs Coordinator, said that the grant was a part of the City’s effort to find funding opportunities to assist in implementing the Climate Action Plan. CMAP will provide staff. “I’ll be working with them, but the majority of the work will be done by CMAP staff,” she said.
Ms. Hurley described the difference between water efficiency and conservation, calling them “two different buckets.” The CMAP project will focus on efficiency, trying to lower water bills of citizens.
“The minute people in Evanston lower water use,” said Ald. Rainey, “staff starts talking about raising water rates.” The City makes money selling water.
Ms. Hurley suggested that having more water in the efficiency “bucket” would allow the City to fill other buckets by selling more water to other communities.
At the Planning and Development Committee meeting, the City deferred discussion about registration of home-based businesses until at least September.
Dennis Marino, planning division director, said that the City was discussing changes with the home-based business section of the Chamber of Commerce. Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, who proposed the registration idea, said talking to the Chamber was “the right course of action to take.”
The Economic Development Committee continued to distribute funds. Under the “Great Merchants” program, five business associations will receive $5,000 grants. Central Street, Chicago-Dempster, Dr. Hill Business Association, Main Street Merchants and the WestEnd Business Association all get assistance with various projects. Hecky’s will get up to $11,500 toward a new façade – provided its landlord agrees. The grant is a 50/50 grant, meaning Hecky’s pays for half.
Finally, Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, provided the lone “no” vote against the issuance of General Obligation bonds, equating the borrowing to buying on a credit card rather than tightening our belts.
The total bond issuance will be up to $19,300,000 split among capital projects, the sewer fund and refinancing existing debt. The City expects to owe about $109,000,000 after bond issuance, said Ald. Burrus and Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons, though the exact figure will not be known until the bonds are issued.