City Council to introduce budget ordinance


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

City financial officer Hitesh Desai at a City Council meeting. Aldermen will vote on the 2020 budget at a meeting on Monday.

Emma Edmund, Assistant City Editor

City Council will vote to introduce the ordinance that would approve the city’s 2020 budget at its meeting Monday.

The proposed 2020 budget, which was first published online on Oct. 4, now stands at just over $320 million, which accounts for budget-balancing changes. Since the budget was first proposed, the city has decided to make some changes, which are updated in the ordinance up for introduction.

For example, the budget will hold four police officer positions, which Chief Financial Officer Hitesh Desai said in the memorandum is consistent with practice since 2017. The new budget also anticipates a $200,000 increase in athletic and amusement tax revenue from Welsh-Ryan Arena events.

“This is a conservative estimate dependent on the final events approved and ticket prices,” Desai’s memorandum states.

The ordinance also calls for the creation of a Reparations Fund, with $250,000 in revenue from recreational cannabis tax and $250,000 in budgeted expenses.

Council members will also vote Monday to introduce an ordinance establishing the Adult Use Cannabis Retailers’ Occupation Tax.

Under this tax, there would be a seven percent tax that applies to “cultivators, craft growers or processors” who sell to dispensaries, and cannabis purchaser excise tax amounting to 10 percent on raw cannabis, 20 percent on cannabis-infused products and 25 percent on raw cannabis with THC above 35 percent.

This is the latest legislation to arise from months of discussion after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law on June 25 a bill making recreational cannabis use legal on Jan. 1. Council members have discussed everything from dispensary zoning to how the city will inform residents about cannabis use.

At a previous ward meeting, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) likened legal cannabis regulation to that of beer.

“Beer is legal,” Rainey said. “You can’t drink a beer in your car, and you’re not going to be able to smoke a joint in your car because it creates a different state of awareness.”

City Council members will also introduce several tax levies and tax changes. Monday’s agenda shows the council will introduce levies for the annual property tax for General Operations, Human Services Fund, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Police and Fire Pension Funds and the Solid Waste Fund, which will total almost $35 million.

Other levies to be introduced are for General Assistance, the Evanston Library Fund and two special service areas. Special Service Area #4 funds a portion of Downtown Evanston activities, while Special Service Area #6 funds a portion of Dempster Street, Chicago Avenue and Main Street activities.

Finally, the agenda includes an ordinance that would raise the amusement tax from 4 to 5 percent, as well as an ordinance that would amend documents regarding parking violations.

“The Ordinance will realign parking fines in phases over the next two years with the maximum increase to a single violation being $10,” states a memorandum from Luke Stowe, the city’s interim administrative services director. “The proposed realignment affects many of the lesser issued citations and is recommended to ensure consistency and uniformity among the various citation types.”

Monday’s City Council meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

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