Evanston residents will see a 10 percent increase in water rates next year along with a property tax hike to refinance sewer system debt as a result of a City Council vote this week.

Utilities Director Dave Stoneback explains the water and sewer proposals.

The aldermen voted unanimously to approve the water rate increase to fund capital improvement projects at the water plant and the replacement of aging water mains in the city.

The report from city staff calls for additional water rate increases of 5 percent in 2012 and 3 percent in 2013.

The city estimates next year’s water rate increase will cost the average customer about $15.

City officials say that among 17 nearby communities checked, Evanston currently has the second lowest water rate. It will move up to third lowest with the latest increase.

The aldermen also voted to refinance some sewer fund debt as general obligation debt that will be added to property tax bills.

That will refinance about $17 million in debt payments due over the next four years and spread its repayment out over 20 years.

The move will add 2.7 percent to the city’s property tax bill by the time all the new bonds are issued or about 0.68 percent in each of the four years.

For a home with an equalized assessed valuation of $100,000, Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says the move will eventually add just under $38 to a city tax bill that now totals $1,400.

The sewer bonds were originally issued to pay for improvements over the past two decades that have dramatically reduced basement flooding problems in the city. Lyons says those bonds will start to be paid off over the next few years. He said that since the improvements are likely to last for a half century or more before needing replacement, it’s reasonable to refinance a portion of the debt with the new 20 year bonds, rather than impose a big spike in sewer rates now.

Evanston’s sewer rates are currently among the highest in the area. 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Taxes grow without rain

    Some kudos for Wally B. for laying off 44 city employees but at the same time he will hire 20 NEW employees for the NEW 311 call center at a cost of $1 million (I wonder if the new 311 call center employees will be unionized).

    The Evanston City Council this year  raised water, gas and utility taxes, increased the Evanston Township Assessor’s Office budget 80 percent, refinanced the sewer debt that will increase the proeprty tax by 2.7 percent and increased the police and fire pensions by 11 percent, which will be a 4 percent increase in our property tax bills (most city union members don’t live in Evanston).

    The D65 School Board is considering building a new Fifth Ward school that would cost taxpayers between $14-20 million.  

    Hard hit Evanston property owners for the fourth consecutive year will see a decline in their property values but an increase in their property taxes. 

    Where’s the tax relief? Where are the fiscal conservatives?

    "There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him"

    -Robert Heinlein


    1. Response to No New Taxes

      Evanston will quit spending money it doesn’t have when pigs fly or when our alderman give up their pet projects and also get tough with the unions.  I’m betting pigs will fly first.

  2. Sewers Redux

    For years the water/sewer rates were increased, we were told, to pay for the repair/replacement of sewers.   Now the Council wants an increase for the same thing  ? to fix properly what was not fixed in the first place ?

    I notice Bryant  north of Colfax has been torn-up for what looks like the same work done [big drain pipes] that was done within the last four years.  In between times large areas have had to be torn-up and re-surfaced [sinking payment], several times.   Poor work the first time ?  If something new, why was the work not synchronized so that the street, at a minimum, did not have to be torn-up twice.   Poor planning at the least.

    People will be able to raddle off other such ‘redo’s like Noyes and Orrington, Poplar north of Central. 

    We don’t have the money to waste.  Why was the ‘first’ plan, which we were told  was complete, not enough ?  Is the water rate increase using the sewers as an excuse to pay for other budget screw-ups ?

    1. Sewer refinancing

      The issuance of sewer bonds the City Council approved this week was to refinance debt for projects already completed.

      It’s like taking out a new mortgage to extend the time you have to pay off the old loan.

      May or may not be a wise move, but it’s not being used for additional work or to re-do things done before.

      — Bill

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