Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement
Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins
Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award
District 65 School Board votes to close Dr. Bessie Rhodes School
Kathryn Hahn declares class of 2024 “worthy of celebration” in commencement address
Pro-Palestinian graduates walk out of 2024 Commencement Ceremony in solidarity with Gaza
‘Wildcats should have wild dreams:’ Nikki Okrah delivers optimistic 2024 Weinberg Convocation address
The Daily Explains: Contextualizing the Evanston reparations lawsuit
Advertisement
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

June 13, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024

Advertisement

Campus Kitchens fills plates and hearts

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

City budget shortfall could spark drastic service cuts

Evanston’s projected $3.7 million budget shortfall will cause drastic cuts in social services and the closing of both branches of the Evanston Public Library if City Manager Roger Crum’s budget proposal is adopted.

In his proposal — first presented Dec. 4 at a budget committee meeting a month before its Jan. 1 deadline — Crum outlined his plan for the $138 million budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year. In order to balance the budget, city staff suggested slashing funding for some programs and eliminating others.

At a special Evanston City Council budget meeting Monday night, Crum said that since the last discussion, “the budget picture has not gotten any better.”

Crum will work with the City Council during a series of Saturday budget workshops to revise the budget proposal. Nothing is permanent until Feb. 28, when the council adopts a budget, he said.

This year’s recession exacerbated Evanston’s financial problems but did not create them, Crum said. The budget has been a problem for years, with last year’s budget beginning with a $2 million shortfall.

“The problem is real and long-term,” Crum said. “It’s not a quick-fix problem.”

One recommended cut is the elimination of the North Branch of the library at 2026 Central St. and the South Branch at 949 Chicago Ave., leaving only the main building at 1703 Orrington Ave. Library Director Neal Ney said he supported this method of reducing expenditures if needed. The council decided to discuss the library cuts at the Jan. 26 budget meeting because they have received so much feedback from residents about the proposal.

“If we’re going to make significant cuts in the library’s budget, this is the way to do it,” Ney said.

Closing the branches, which account for 17 percent of library use, will allow the main library to operate without significantly decreasing its hours or book-buying funds, Ney said.

The Summer Youth Employment Program, which helps employ teenagers, and the Fleetwood Jourdain Theater program also are slated for elimination under the proposed budget.

Other cuts include $150,000 from the city’s Mental Health Grants fund and $225,000 from the Community Purchased Services fund. Both programs, which provide funds for social service organizations that serve residents, would lose more than 30 percent of their budget under the proposal.

Crum said he looked at areas where the city gives money to other agencies, such as these social service organizations, when making his recommended cuts.

“If we don’t have the money to give, we can’t give it,” he said.

Major cuts were proposed for the city’s operating budget as well, although programs such as police field operations, fire and emergency response and street maintenance received minimal reductions in funds.

The recommended budget cuts include eliminating 27 and a half jobs from the city. Part-time positions count as half jobs. Only nine and a half of those positions are currently filled.

Ald. Gene Feldman (9th) asked residents at the December meeting to tell aldermen how the proposed cuts would affect them.

“There is not a member on this City Council or staff that knows what effect exactly these cuts will have on people’s lives,” Feldman said. “I would suggest that your understanding is the criteria you use, not the one you get from staff.”

Crum said that so far the public meetings have not significantly changed the development of the budget and residents have not come up with any new ideas to solve the budget problem.

But Evanston residents keep trying to tackle the budget issue. One Evanston resident, Gerald Gordon, said he is planning to meet with Crum and other city staff to discuss the budget. Gordon said he believes the budget numbers indicate that the city is taking too much of the taxpayers’ money and saving it. Director of Finance William Stafford said the discrepancy in the budget arises because of the law requiring the city to account for taxes that have been billed but not received yet.

Evanston resident Jim Murray said he thought the city should look at alternative revenue sources.

“I think new revenues as opposed to cutting (city employees) need to be explored,” he said. He suggested looking into added fees for city services.

Resident John Kennedy objected to the number of street signs posted throughout the city.

“There’s a quarter of a million dollars in street signs,” he said. “I don’t think we need any other street signs.”

Each cut is a matter of concern to Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th).

“Clearly there are no (programs) that are expendable to all,” he said. “I don’t know if there are any that I can smile after cutting.”

At Monday’s special budget meeting, the council laid out a schedule for more budget talks. The council decided to hold discussions about ideas for generating new revenue at the first meeting.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said new revenues should be discussed before making decisions to cut programs. If more revenue were generated, it might be possible to save some programs. Other aldermen agreed.

More residents will be able to voice their opinions at the budget workshops, which will be held on five consecutive Saturdays starting Sat. Jan 19 and ending Feb. 26. These meetings will last from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be a public hearing, which is required by state law, on Feb 4 at 7 p.m.

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
City budget shortfall could spark drastic service cuts