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City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has released a $248 million proposed budget for the City of Evanston for fiscal year 2013, which begins Jan. 1, 2013.

The proposed budget shows a projected deficit of nearly $1 million in the General Fund, the City’s main operating budget, according to a prepared statement from the City. Nonetheless, the budget proposes a decrease in the City’s portion of the property tax levy – perhaps 1.85 percent, depending on how the City Council addresses that gap. The City’s bite of the property tax is about 21 percent of the overall property tax bill.

To plug the projected gap between revenues and expenditures in the General Fund, Mr. Bobkiewicz’s budget proposes increases in some recreation program fees and cable franchise fees. Other estimates of revenue increases are a result of projected increases in collections of fines and fees and a voluntary payment in lieu of taxes by Mather LifeWays. Mr. Bobkiewiccz has proposed ways to close the projected gap between projected revenues and anticipated expenses in the General Fund. One of these is to increase the City’s portion of the property tax by 1 percent, which, if approved by City Council, would reduce his proposed 1.85 percent reduction in the overall tax levy to .85 percent. 

The proposed allocations to the firefighters and police officers pension funds are $7,560,000 and $9,486,769, respectively. These amounts reflect the recommendations of the City’s actuary, Mr. Bobkiewicz said in his transmittal letter to the City Council, and are “$3.85 million above the minimum funding required by State of Illinois statute.”

Most City personnel will see “modest compensation increases in the form of a cost of living increase of 2 percent, and the reinstatement of merit/step increases for non-represented employees,” Mr. Bobkiewicz said. He proposes a net reduction of 5.27 full-time-equivalent City positions: the reduction of 7.80 positions and the addition of 2.53 positions. According to the statement, “The total full-time equivalent staffing level for FY 2013 is proposed at 792.94 full-time equivalents (FTE), compared to a high level of 884 in 2006-07.  In addition to the position reductions, there have been several other adjustments to existing positions, which have resulted in some reductions in hours or transfers of duties.  All of the changes have been made in an effort to continue to focus on efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery. 

“The annual budget is a policy document which sets the financial course for the city and defines the service priorities provided to the community. It is the culmination of months of effort by the entire city staff, as well as residents, to balance available resources with the actual and desired services required by residents, businesses and visitors.”  

Mr. Bobkiewicz said, “Although the prevailing economic climate has shown some signs of improvement during the past year, the national economy remains an area of concern,” explained Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. “The performance of the national economy impacts the city in numerous ways including local employment, housing and economic development. As such, staff has been diligently monitoring expenses and revenues to ensure that the City remains fiscally stable in these challenging economic times, while still providing core services in the most responsible ways possible.”

City Council is scheduled to discuss the budget at its Oct. 29 meeting. An optional budget discussion is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 13. By law, the City must approve a balanced budget by the end of the current fiscal year.