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City Council continue to step gingerly into 2016, short-staffed and short an alderman. Business continues apace, and yet is seems as if the bigger decisions loom as staff limbo and state budget limbo continue.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is out on paternity leave. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl read a report from Mr. Bobkiewicz, saying, “We are doing great. Baby Wally is sleeping well.” Mr. Bobkiewicz is expected to return in February.
City Clerk Rodney Green remains out as well, dealing with ongoing medical issues. Mayor Tisdhal reported that Mr. Green “was here [the Civic Center] for a couple of hours today.” He wisely went home, she added. He will return full time when health allows.
Council voted to approve the appointment of Eleanor Revelle as the new Seventh Ward Alderman. Ms. Revelle replaces Jane Grover, who resigned at the end of the year to take a job with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Ms. Revelle is out of town, though, and will not physically take her seat until mid-February.
Business included the selection of a new auditor for the City books. “We are very happy with our current firm,” Baker & Tilly, said City CFO and acting City Manager Marty Lyons. “But we are not allowed to use them again per our Council policy” which requires a periodic change in the auditor. The new firm, Sikich, LLP, “will be tough on staff,” he predicted. “I do not expect a clean audit, because they will be looking at different things” from those the current auditor studied.
Council approved a contract renewal with Open Communities to provide “tenant/landlord services to Evanston residents and property owners” per the staff memo. The City pays $37,500 for this service, paid out of the Affordable Housing Fund collected from developers in lieu of affordable housing units. Open Communities handles about 33 landlord-tenant cases per month, mostly eviction and lease concerns.
Council also approved changes to the Ozinga concrete plant enclosure for the plant at 2525 Oakton St. A new 70-foot high concrete building exceeds the 60-foot maximum height, but will enclose operations and prevent at least some of the dust and noise issues the nearby neighborhood experienced in the past. “I am very happy to see this happen,” said Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward. “I am very supportive of it.”
Finally, it is that time of year again. Mayor Tisdahl called for suggestions for appointment to the aldermanic and mayoral compensation committee. Beginning May 2016, aldermanic salaries will be $12,990 per year for a job that takes up 20 to 40 hours per week on aldermanic duties. The Mayor will make $20,556 in 2016, spending 30 to 50 hours per week on official duties. The compensation committee will recommend salary levels for the next four years – 2017-21.