Fiscal year 2020 budget ordinances introduced at City Council


Joshua Irvine/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th). City Council introduced a slew of ordinances as the city prepares to pass its 2020 budget.

Joshua Irvine, Reporter

Aldermen introduced a host of ordinances Monday in a push to finalize the city’s 2020 budget before the end of the year.

With only two City Council sessions remaining, aldermen moved to introduce several tax levies as well as an overall approval of the budget for fiscal year 2020. The latter ordinance includes several revisions implemented since the budget was first proposed, including reductions on projected parking ticket revenue and the movement of a quarter million dollars to a newly created reparations fund.

Projected expenditures now sit at $321 million, up from $317 million in the original proposal.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) pushed to suspend a proposed increase of parking rates on Central Street, though it was shot down by council. Revelle had previously voiced concerns with the rate increase and suggested the decision would harm businesses and drive consumers to nearby Wilmette.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he had heard similar concerns from business owners in his ward, adding that it was unfair for City Council to prioritize certain business districts.

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) said she had also heard complaints from residents about the higher rates but balked when interim city manager Erika Storlie said eliminating the increase would cost the city up to $1.9 million.

“That’s big,” Fleming said. “I don’t have a replacement for that.”

A movement to remove the increase failed 7-2, with only Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) backing Revelle.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) criticized the city for “nickel-and-diming” residents and said the council needed to “think holistically” to improve the city’s finances. However, she still voted in favor of the increase.

“Going forward,” Fiske said, “let’s try and look at things from a larger picture.”

A few issues remained unresolved at the close of discussion. The new budget projected revenues from a recently approved measure to begin hosting professional events at Welsh-Ryan Arena, but Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said the city should establish clear rules for taxing nonprofits like Northwestern. Wilson said the issue should constitute its own ordinance, and no further action was taken.

A final version of the vacant property tax discussed on Nov. 11 was still missing. Community development director Johanna Leonard said at that meeting that city staff were still examining revenue projections based on suggestions by Wilson.

On Monday, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) and Rainey scored a victory with the allocation of a projected $250,000 from the city’s recreational cannabis tax toward reparations for black residents. The cannabis tax will go into effect July 1, Storlie said. The aldermen encouraged residents to donate to the fund, to which the city has pledged $10 million.

“All amounts are accepted – including $10 million,” Rue Simmons said.

A slew of ordinances implementing property tax levies and tax abatements were introduced without discussion. Aldermen must vote on the budget, levies and abatements before the end of the year.

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