2022 Capital Improvement Plan budget highlights environmental justice upgrades


Nick Francis/Daily Senior Staffer

Councilmember Devon Reid (8th). At this week’s City Council, Reid said more money should be allocated to the 2022 proposed budget’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Lily Carey , Reporter

After the release of Evanston’s proposed 2022 budget last week, the city staff discussed this year’s Capital Improvement Plan — and its emphasis on environmental justice — at City Council Monday.

The 2022 Capital Improvement Plan is a program designed to address infrastructure issues in Evanston and is slated to receive $64.3 million for citywide projects. That funding accounts for about 18% of the total proposed 2022 budget of nearly $355 million.

“There is a focus in the city of Evanston on … looking at issues like equity, access and just generally solving the problems that are …most impactful to people,” Lara Biggs, the Engineering and Capital Planning bureau chief, said in her CIP budget presentation.

This year’s budget focuses on combining CIP infrastructure goals with environmental justice, especially through the Climate Action and Resilience Plan. CARP aims to get Evanston to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with several goals along the way to help the city combat climate change. 

Councilmembers want to work toward combining CIP planning with CARP environmental goals. Multiple projects already on the 2022 CIP memo fall into both of these categories, including stormwater system upgrades, water main renovations and a street resurfacing and upgrading project on parts of Church Street, Main Street and Green Bay Road. 

“This is a model for other departments in the city to always be thinking about climate action and environmental justice,” Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said.

Both CARP and CIP goals are also targeted toward environmental justice initiatives, especially for areas where improper infrastructure could put residents at risk for impacts of climate change-induced severe weather. 

Councilmembers advocated for green infrastructure projects to be focused in marginalized communities throughout the city in order to ensure all of Evanston is equally prepared for potential climate change impacts. 

“A lack of funding for this infrastructure … disproportionately impacts Black and brown folks,” Nieuwsma said. “Those are communities that tend to have the lowest-quality facilities (and) the lowest-quality roads.”

Funding for this year’s CIP is coming from two main sources: bond sales and project-specific funds. The sale of general obligation bonds, which are government bonds without any restriction as to what they can be used for, account for $10.4 million of the proposed 2022 CIP budget, while water and library bond sales account for an additional $5.8 million.

The remainder of the budget comes from various funds that allocate money to specific project categories, such as water management, sewers and parking. Many of these funds come with geographic or categorical restrictions on how they can be used, meaning CIP projects must be appropriately divided into these funding possibilities.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) expressed concerns that spending for CIP projects should be increased in order to keep up with infrastructure demands.

“We need to raise additional revenue,” Reid said. “Having safe bridges, roads and clean drinking water and facilities … is extremely important and one of the basic things that government should do.”

But Biggs said the current funding sources prevent the city from allocating more money to CIP.  

Once budget deliberations have concluded, discussions of CIP will be left to City Council, as the initiative will be adopted into the general citywide budget. From that point, Biggs said, it will be up to councilmembers to decide how to carry out the current goal of green infrastructure for 2022.

Email: [email protected]