Evanston staff considers potential cuts to balance upcoming state slashes


Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz (left) informed staff in an email last week of ten potential budget reductions to compensate for state cuts. Three of the possibilities affect employee compensation, while the rest add fees for residents.

Julia Jacobs, Summer Editor

Illinois Budget Crisis

While preparing for likely funding reductions from the state, the city has narrowed down a list of ten possible cuts to employee compensation and additional fees for Evanston residents.

Changes affecting city employees could include the introduction of furlough days, which would require staff to take unpaid time off, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said in an email to his staff. Other cuts could come from eliminating or reducing incentives for unused sick leave and no longer providing stipends for employees who use their own cell phones for work purposes, Bobkiewicz said.

Effects to residents could include increased fees for internet use, building permits, yard waste and ambulances. The community may also see heightened parking citations and cigarette taxes as well as the introduction of a used car sales tax.

“All of these are potential options — none of these are in stone,” Bobkiewicz told The Daily. “These are all just things we’re thinking about, but in the effort of being transparent we just want everyone to be aware that these are the issues that we’re discussing.”

The city manager has also asked the heads of all city departments to plan for 2 percent reductions in their own budgets. The Evanston Police Department — which has the largest budget of city departments — must plan for a potential cut of about $560,000.

Under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget, Evanston stood to lose about $3.75 million. But as the state remains at a budget impasse, there’s no certainty about how much will be slashed from city funds, Bobkiewicz told The Daily last week.

The city manager directed his staff last week to plan for budget changes assuming two possible situations of $500,000 and $1.5 million in state cuts.

At future City Council meetings aldermen will discuss the possibility of furlough days for Sep. 4 and Dec. 31, Bobkiewicz said in the email. Although furlough days aren’t ideal, they’ve been implemented in the city before, he said.

“It’s not something we’ll do lightly, but given the impact of the cuts we’re looking at, it’s worth considering,” Bobkiewicz said.

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