The City has used Chase Bank for some of its services for more than 10 years. A new RFP for banking services may change that.RoundTable photo

The City of Evanston will be issuing requests for proposals (RFP) from banks that demonstrate, among other requirements, “social responsibility.” At the June 25 City Council meeting, aldermen approved the RFP process, which some appear to believe will result in the City’s discontinuing to use Chase Bank for some of its banking services. Occupy Evanston, a group that has staged several protests in the downtown area in recent weeks, has urged that the City stop using Chase Bank.

A memo from Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Martin Lyons and Accounting Manager Hitesh Desai said, “The purpose of this process is to select the most efficient local bank which has the capability and expertise to provide depository and other banking services for the City of Evanston.” While developing the RFP, staff stressed “the importance of selecting a local bank,” according to the memo.

The City currently has more than 30 checking and money market accounts with Chase and First Bank and Trust, both of whose services it has used for more than 10 years.

Staff will evaluate responses to the RFP against the following criteria: qualifications and expertise, type and scope of services provided, price, organization and completeness of proposal, willingness to execute the City’s standard agreement and social responsibility.

During the citizen comment portion of the Council meeting, Elliot Zashin, Jack Siegel and Diane Thodos spoke in favor of the City’s decision. Identifying himself as a member of Occupy Evanston, Mr. Zashin said, “A number of us met with the City Manager about a week ago, and it was very clear that he was listening. … We wanted to make the Council aware that there is interest among residents to move money to banks that are local and that have the interests of Evanston at heart.”

Ms. Thodos said, “It is a negative sign [for Evanston] that our money is invested in Chase. … We’re right at a crux when we could become once again a model community for these kinds of changes, which are absolutely necessary … To have our City pulling our money out of Chase and putting it into the local banks would give us, I think, a great deal of national prestige in joining other communities that have done so.”

After reviewing the responses, staff will present a recommendation to City Council “for … one or a combination of more than one bank to deliver banking services for the City of Evanston.”