The City presented its first-quarter figures at the April 27 City Council meeting. “We’re doing fine for the first quarter,” City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the Council members. He added that he and Assistant City Manager/Treasurer Marty Lyons “are both very concerned that we need to take steps today” to prepare for possible actions from the Illinois General Assembly that would affect City finances.
Actions taken by Governor Bruce Rauner to fill gaps in the current fiscal year’s State budget will likely not affect Evanston, Mr. Bobkiewicz said; the concerns are for fiscal year 2016, which for the State begins July 1. “I am very concerned that the State of Illinois cannot solve its problems without impacting municipalities,” he said.
The governor’s proposed 2016 budget would halve the municipal share of state income taxes (known as LGDF, the Local Government Distributive Fund). Evanston’s share of LGDF (based on anticipated revenues for 2015) is $7.5 million, so the proposed 50% reduction represents a potential loss of $3.7 million, according to the City.
Mr. Bobkiewicz proffered four recommendations that he said would help the City absorb financial shock from Springfield: asking the bargaining units for City employees about the possibility of two furlough days; asking all departments to engage in “much more rigorous” budgeting; superseding department heads’ approval for expenditures and directing the requests to Mr. Lyons; and talking with staff members to identify cost-saving measures.
The furlough days Mr. Bobkiewicz proposed are the Friday before Labor Day and New Year’s Eve. Public safety employees would give up one day of vacation, he said, since police and fire departments “can’t just close for the day,” Mr. Bobkiewicz said.
He added, “As the State makes changes, I think we will be well prepared.”
Asked by an alderman what she is scared of, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “I can tell you I am scared about many things, but what I actually know is not much.”