As Evanston’s City Council prepares to hold a “truth in taxation” hearing tonight, council members have been asking staff about more ways to hike taxes.

Such tax increases could be a way to reduce the proposed 7.9% increase in the property tax that is in the proposed budget recommended by the city manager.

One new tax ideas is to tax food delivery services. City staff says a 1% tax on major food delivery platforms serving restaurants might generate $150,000 a year.

Another suggestion is adding another $5 to the city’s wheel tax, which was increased by $5 to $90 in 2022.

At the same time it increased the tax rate, the city eliminated the $25 penalty for late payments — what was billed as a measure to help lower income residents who might be hard-pressed to pay the fee on time.

That, city staff says, has lead to a decrease in wheel tax receipts of about 9%, despite the increase in rates.

As shown in the chart, Evanston already has the second-highest wheel tax rate among a group of nearby communities. Several of those towns have eliminated their wheel tax completely in recent years.

Another suggestion for a tax hike is to raise the motor fuel tax rate from 5-cents to 6-cents a gallon.

Evanston already has one of the highest gas tax rates among nearby communities.

And city staff noted in a memo that because of a drop-off in commuting as a result of the pandemic and the gradual shift to electric vehicles, the gas tax is “a revenue source that has decreased over time” — from $1.3 million in 2018 to a projected $850,000 this year.

The budget memos prepared by staff may be in response to a request from just a single council member and its unclear whether any of these proposed tax hikes have enough support on the council to win approval.

Monday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. The budget is scheduled for final adoption at a meeting on Nov. 27.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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