Faced with a choice of playing Robin Hood or eco-warrior, Evanston aldermen Monday voted for the Sherwood Forest option.

They decided not to increase volume-based rates that residential customers pay on their water bills for trash service, and to create a new special-purpose property tax levy instead.

Using the property tax approach means, city officials estimate, that the owner of a home valued at $1 million will pay $168.43 next year to have a 65-gallon trash cart plus a yard waste cart, while someone with a $200,000 home would pay just $130.01 for the same service.

An alternative rate plan proposed by city staff would have set the rate for all homeowners for that level of service at $153.80 for the year and would not have required the 1 percent increase to the city’s property tax levy.

An eco-warrior stance would likely have opted for placing the entire cost on the water bill — because that would give residents more incentive to reduce environmental costs by recycling more and throwing out less.

Residents who choose to throw out more pay more on their water bill if they have the larger 95-gallon refuse carts, but producing more trash won’t affect the bite they face in property taxes.

The city’s solid waste fund now runs a deficit of roughly $800,000 a year — which in effect has been covered by the general property tax levy in the past.

The new 2018 solid waste property tax levy would reduce that deficit by only about a third — meaning that there will need to either be further tax hikes or rate increases in 2019 and 2020 if the fund deficit is to be wiped out over the three-year period.

Related stories

Council to vote on trash fee hikes (9/23/17)

Trash: Who should pay what and how (9/13/17)

Big fee hikes proposed for trash removal (9/11/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Just Wondering

    How many owners of $1 million + properties use yard waste carts.  Or do their landscapers haul the waste away as part of their service?  If it’s the latter, then our great city leaders are over estimating the amount of revenue this new tax will bring in.

    1. Tax yield

      Hi Amelia,

      The property tax portion of the revenue is completely independent of whether people have yard waste carts or not.

      While the chosen tax scheme appears to favor lower income homeowners — it has occurred to me since I wrote the story that it disfavors anybody who lives in a condo or a large rental building. Those trash-hauling programs now competely cover their own costs through the fees charged — yet those residents will have to kick in — directly or indirectly — via property taxes to subsidize the service to single-family homes.

      And, FWIW, I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in mine many folks who have landscape services still have yard waste carts.

      — Bill

  2. Trash and recycles

    Re. cost of garbage.trash removal; I live in a retirement facility (1020 Grove) and although we have multiple recycle bins I see that many, many cardboard boxes are being tossed into the dumpster rather than being folded up or cut up and recycled.

    Would it cost less to recycle those boxes than to put them in the dumpsters?

    1. Yes

      In addition to the cost of hauling stuff away, the city has to pay to have refuse placed in a landfill.

      Recyclable material placed in the recycling cart doesn’t directly earn the city any money — but the recyclers are willing to accept it for free — so it avoids the landfill charge — which amounts to a significant saving.

      — Bill

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *