The Council of “Yes” continues. You would not know there was an impending budget crisis based upon Council debate and votes.
Despite near constant claims of a $3 to $6 million budget hole, every single proposed expenditure before Council last night passed easily, most on the consent agenda, including almost $207,000 in borrowed GO bond money to a consultant to assess Evanston’s roads, $92,600 for pavement marking, $22,000 for a new riding lawn mower, $33,500 for a new police SUV, over $300,000 for an ambulance replacing one with less than 90,000 miles, almost $415,000 for three new trucks, and $220,000 to pave a 6th ward alley.
Only Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd ward, acknowledged the budget crisis in pushing back on the road consultant contract. He asked that it be delayed a year since the City could still use results from a similar study paid for five years ago. Director of Public Works Dave Stoneback acknowledged the City could use the older data, though roadway conditions have changed in the interim.
The measure passed 8-1. No one else seemed to even consider a no vote on that or any other expenditure. Someday, we are told, difficult budget decisions will come. Apparently, not yet — every proposed expenditure passed easily.
The only other measure receiving no votes would actually increase City revenue, as Aldermen Robin Rue Simmons, 5th ward, and Tom Suffredin, 6th ward, voted no on a change to the resident contribution to subsidized taxi coupons for the elderly and disabled. A new debit card program being rolled out [as reported elsewhere] will ultimately result in the phasing out of the coupons, Council voted 7-2 to raise resident contribution from $4 to $5 per coupon.