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.
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)