For voters in the few Evanston wards with City Council contests this spring, a vital question is whether the city is better off now that it was four years ago, at the start of their alderman’s current term.

We hope you’ll offer your thoughts on that question in our comments, and plan to offer some facts and figures to stimulate the discussion.

To start, here’s a chart that shows the change in total net city spending over the course of the last two City Councils.

When the aldermen elected in 2005 took office, they inherited a budget with net spending totalling $155 million. The last budget they adopted, for fiscal year 2009-10, showed a 31 percent increase in spending — to $203 million, even though the recession and housing market collapse that began in 2007 was already well underway.

The current City Council’s final budget, for fiscal year 2013, also shows a spending increase, to $215 million. But the growth has been much less, just 6 percent over the four-year period.

A look at how the pace of spending growth was slowed in our next installment.

If you’d like to dig into the city budget numbers yourself, you find the data on the city’s website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The answer is,,,,,,,,,,

    You got to be kidding. We have a bunch os spendacholics in our city government.

  2. City Council is going to give

    City Council is going to give approval for two forgivable HOME loans  total $736462.00 this coming Monday.

    Cut a Sweetheard deal for the Ward Eight bar last year.

    Just walk in ask for money, they will write a check.

  3. We’re sadly lacking

    We're sadly lacking in leadership on the council and in the city manager's office. Spend, spend, spend. We have an unworkable 3-1-1 with its employees beholden to the city manager, and taxpayers have greatly reduced access to city information and departments. No wonder most aldermen are running unopposed. Who would want to get into that morass of self-indulgence? Hold out a camera, and they'll all show up to talk.

    1. Yes, we’re sadly lacking but why so many uncontested races?

      Two aldermen told me that they like 311 in part because they receive less calls from citizens, which gives aldermen more time for other matters. They said before 311 they would receive numerous calls about street paving, solicitors and other concerns and ultimately the aldermen would refer these citizens to particular city departments. 

      If I were aldermen I would want these calls so I could to talk to as many constituents as possible even though there was little personally I could do. The City Council spent $1 million and hired 20 unionized employees who will receive pensions to run 311 at a time the city was losing tax revenue as property values plunged.  Very little was cut from labor costs as our city revenues declined. 

      The aldermen's answer to declining revenues was to raise taxes (20 percent increase since 2009) and loan and grant taxpayers' money to "privileged" private businesses (Trader Joes, Eighth Ward Wine Bar, Waffle House etc) and to create more TIFS that sucks more tax money from our schools and city services in order to improve the local economy. 

      The Council last year approved a TIF for a shopping center that months earlier was purchased in a foreclosure by an investment firm.

      Unfortunately, there are only two contested council races. I'm voting for Mark Sloane.

  4. Taxpayers have it easy in IL.

    But wait, isn't our state income tax rate so low, paying this extra spending in the city is no problem. Isn't that what Union supporters say concerning the budget/pension problems. And since we pay so very little state income tax here in Illinois govt. should just keep on spending more and more. We taxpayers have just had it way too easy here in Illinois and it's time we stepped up. Spend away.

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