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Budget would increase city spending 7.8 percent

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Net spending by the City of Evanston would increase about 7.8 percent next year under the newly proposed budget from City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

Major increases from this year's budgeted levels would come from:

  • An increase in water fund spending from $9.5 million to $24.6 million as work begins on a project to replace a major water reservoir.
  • An increase in other capital improvement spending by the city from $22.3 million to $30 million.
  • An increase in library spending from $6.5 million to $10.6 million — largely driven by plans for renovations at the main library and planning for a new library branch at a proposed new Crown Center.
  • An increase in public safety pension spending from $19.2 million to $20.5 million, based on new recommendations from the city's actuaries.

Not counting the separate library tax levy, the city manager says the city's property tax levy will increase by 2.4 percent under the proposed budget, which would add about $46 to the tax bill of a resident with a home valued at $400,000.

Funding for most of the increase in spending will come from bonds to be issued by the city that will be paid back with interest over the next 20 years.

City officials argue that current low interest rates make this a good time to catch up on some long-deferred capital projects.

The baseline proposed budget assumes no cuts in aid to city from the state and does not include funding for pay increases for city employees. The city's contracts with its union workers expire at the end of this year, and no new contract agreements have been reached yet.

However a package of proposed modifications to the budget includes nearly $1 million for salary increases as part of a package of $5.2 million in revenue increases and $6.6 million in expense increases.

Some of the new revenue would come from increasing parking deck fees and the hours of operation for parking meters.

The budget also sets out a series of proposed cuts if the state legislature cuts state aid. Those cuts would mostly come from layoffs and leaving unfilled positions vacant.

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