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A post-holiday agenda full of tax levies and similar budget discussions appeared certain to drive away would be City critics and observers. Following closely on the heels of highly controversial matter such as the Harley Clarke mansion and the Nevins-Moon building made the inevitable a little more so. 

Such was the case Nov. 27. Business continued, however, and Council went about the day-to-day work of running the City. First up – insurance renewals. Property insurance covering damage to City property from storm or other damage will cost $176,000 this year. The good news: the price is almost $16,000 less than last year. 

Next up, general liability insurance covering injuries on City property. The City self-insures for up to $1.25 million, but maintains a policy for up to $20 million for large losses. The cost went up 12% on this policy, to more than $210,000. 

Interesting facts often appear within insurance renewal documents, such as the fact the “City’s payroll cost increased over $3 million for FY2017. Higher workers compensation premiums are correlated to higher payroll costs…” Again, the workers’ comp policy is for excess coverage above the City’s self-insured limit. It will cost about $143,000, about $13,000 more than last year. 

The Chandler-Newberger electrical and HVAC bid went forward after a two week delay caused by the contractor’s stated inability to meet the City’s MWEBE subcontracting requirement. Under City rules, 25% of a contract must go to a minority-owned, women-owned or Evanston Based company. Amber Mechanical sought a waiver, saying they tried but could find only 10% to subcontract to a Frankfort, Ill. minority-owned HVAC subcontractor. 

Other contractors could meet the MWEBE requirement, but their bids came in at least $58,000 higher on a $490,000 contract.  Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, asked to hold the matter to look into the MWEBE issue two weeks ago, but she could not attend the Nov. 27 meeting. The contract passed on the consent agenda without discussion. 

Water, water, every week. This time, water treatment chemicals were purchased totaling about $403,000. The chemicals include liquid aluminum sulfate, fluoride, chlorine, polymer, and phosphate. It turns out treating and supplying fresh, safe water is expensive work. 

Next spring, like clockwork, the construction trucks will arrive to tear up certain streets as part of the water main and street resurfacing program. “A detailed topographic survey is needed for each of the 11 project sites,” according to the staff memo. The cost: about $46,500. The matter passed on the consent agenda without discussion.

The survey work did not go to the lowest bidder, an Oak Park company bid just over $25,000. Instead, staff selected an Elgin company approaching twice the bid price because the Oak Park company “had no MWEBE participation,” according to staff. MWEBE matters on some projects more than others, it appears. Some 25% of this contract will go to a Downers Grove minority-owned business. The Oak Park outfit also promised delivery within a couple days of City approval, a quicker turnaround, while the Elgin company promised delivery by Jan. 31, 2018. 

Liquor! Two items appeared in liquor bytes this week. First, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. sought permission to start serving beer at 11 a.m. on Sunday, something not currently allowed by their Class J liquor license. Council readily agreed – they open and start serving beer every other day at 11, and on college football game days, kickoff is at 11. 

Also, Union Squared asked for a license permitting customers to buy a six-pack with their pizza. Beer for off-premises consumption is not allowed under their current D license. They will give up the D and shift to an A, a license allowing sale for both on- and off-premises consumption, provided 20% of square footage is for retail sales.