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Aldermen talk preliminary concerns for proposed 2018 budget

Ald.+Donald+Wilson+%284th%29+speaks+at+the+Oct.+9+City+Council+meeting.+Wilson+and+Ald.+Eleanor+Revelle+%287th%29+shared+the+community%E2%80%99s+initial+concerns+regarding+the+proposed+2018+budget.+%0A
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Aldermen talk preliminary concerns for proposed 2018 budget

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) speaks at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. Wilson and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) shared the community’s initial concerns regarding the proposed 2018 budget.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) speaks at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. Wilson and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) shared the community’s initial concerns regarding the proposed 2018 budget.

Rachel Kupfer/The Daily Northwestern

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) speaks at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. Wilson and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) shared the community’s initial concerns regarding the proposed 2018 budget.

Rachel Kupfer/The Daily Northwestern

Rachel Kupfer/The Daily Northwestern

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) speaks at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. Wilson and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) shared the community’s initial concerns regarding the proposed 2018 budget.

Rishika Dugyala, City Editor

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As city staff gears up to present next year’s proposed budget to City Council on Monday, Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) shared concerns regarding staff layoffs and the redistribution of services.

Wilson said before the budget was officially released Oct. 6, aldermen only knew that the deficit would be larger than expected. The proposal has a $6 million hole, roughly double the initial amount city staff said they had anticipated.

The overall budget would be $338 million, up more than $30 million from last year. City manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily staff suggests decreasing expenditures by an additional $4.4 million and increasing revenue by $2.4 million to solve the deficit.

Changes to adjust for the deficit include a proposed 1.1 percent tax hike to fund police and fire pensions as well as the elimination of about 28 full-time positions across seven departments, Bobkiewicz said.

Wilson said the suggested layoffs are difficult to digest.

“Over the past number of years I’ve been on council, we’ve tried our best not to be overstaffed, but we’re now reducing the city’s capacity to do things,” he said. “And it’s particularly hard because it’s somebody’s life.”

Wilson said he prefers to minimize downsizing and avoid property tax increases whenever possible. He said he hopes to steer sources of revenue toward “expenditures people can control,” such as parking tickets. Even if parking fines are increased, Wilson said, residents can avoid being ticketed.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) and Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) held a joint ward meeting Thursday to hear residents’ opinions.

But Fleming and Revelle said they would not comment on the budget until they finished analyzing it.

“We have other humongous items on our agenda because of downtown development and affordable housing,” Revelle said. “It’s kind of a, ‘Do my homework frantically before each meeting’ thing to get ahead of the game.”

Revelle did share what she heard from her constituents, though, saying many worry about the budget’s proposed transfer of the Social Services Bureau from the Evanston Police Department to the Health and Human Services Department.

With the transfer, the bureau would not only lose $400,000 in funding, but also experienced staff, Revelle said.

“The youth services counselor position works closely with young people and helps coordinate the restorative justice program,” Revelle said. “There’s quite a bit of expertise that counselor has developed over time, and it’s important not to lose that.”

Revelle said staff is aware of these concerns and will address the general funds section of the budget at Monday’s council meeting.

Going forward, Wilson said, the city needs to be more conservative in its revenue projections so it doesn’t find itself in the same deficit situation.

“It’s hard because the whole time I’ve been on council, it feels like we’ve always been cutting things,” Wilson said. “Particularly this year, we’re trying to have (a) realistic view.”

Email: rishikadugyala2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @rdugyala822

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