Evanston aldermen Monday voted to raise taxes on auto fuel and restaurant meals as they searched for ways to make the city’s ballooning budget less unpalatable to homeowners.

City officials forecast the 1 percent increase in the sales tax on restaurant food and non-alcoholic beverages will raise $849,000 a year, assuming people don’t change their dining habits.

The city manager had proposed raising the tax on food but lowering the tax on alcoholic beverages to partially offset the increase, but the aldermen rejected the reduction in the liquor tax.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she doubts the tax hike will impact restaurant business, “The reason restaurants here are doing so great, is not just their great food and beverages, but also that they’re located in a great community.”

Although some restaurateurs are believed to oppose the increase, none spoke against it at Monday’s public hearing on the budget.

The one-cent per gallon increase in the motor fuel tax is expected to raise $130,000.

After Monday’s actions city staff estimated the property tax increase needed to fully fund the budget has been cut to 10.5 percent from an originally proposed 15.15 percent.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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