The head of Evanston’s Chamber of Commerce says the city’s proposed 15 percent property tax increase is too high.

Chamber Executive Director Jonathan Perman says that assuming the city’s two school districts increase their property tax levies at about the 4 percent rate of inflation, Evanstonians will be faced with a total property tax bump of around 6.3 percent.

“It should be more like 2 to 4 percent,” Perman says, “roughly the rate of inflation.”

Perman says the city may be able to find some relief from its budget problems by taking a closer look at the water and sewer bonds used to upgrade the sewer system and reduce chronic basement flooding problems.

“Those bonds will start expiring soon, in varying amounts over the next several years,” he said.

“After that, you could argue there’d be no need to continue water and sewer rates at their current high levels,” but the rates might be maintained and the extra money used to help meet some of the pension obligation, either directly or indirectly, he suggested.

Perman, who is a member of the city’s Parking Committee, says the city faces another looming budget problem because of the way it handles the parking fund.

He says the fund is supposed to operate like an independent business — raising its own revenue and covering its costs.

But the city has repeatedly shifted money from the parking fund to the general fund, and when it raises monthly rates at city garages, the increase becomes part of the parking tax, which goes to the general fund, not the parking fund.

“In the long run that will come back to hurt us,” Perman says, “because there are big bond debt obligations for the garages, plus maintenance and operating costs.”

Perman said the city’s proposed increases in business licenses fees this year “are relatively minor overall.”

But he says the chamber is “totally opposed” to City Manager Julia Carroll’s suggestion that the city should impose a food and beverage tax.

He said it would unfairly “single out one particular occupational group to solve the city’s problems.”

Perman said he hopes to meet soon with local landlords to get their views about the city plan to impose a $40 annual fee on each apartment unit in town.

He said he’s not yet certain whether the inspection program to be funded by the fee would be effective in halting the bad behaviors that residents favoring the program are concerned about.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Meet with landlords about fee?
    Perman “hopes to meet soon with local landlords to get their views about the city plan to impose a $40 annual fee on each apartment unit in town”? Now, what do you suppose they’ll say about that? Does anyone really expect landlords to supply an objective opinion on this issue?

    This city should stop worrying about what landlords think and start protecting the interests of its citizens. Certain parts of this town are plagued by problem rental buildings, and the current system of oversight lacks the leverage needed to get bad landlords to change their ways. An aggressive inspection program is one step the city can take to begin to address this serious problem.

  2. Jonathan Perman
    We need more people like Jonathan Perman working at city! I agree on everything he says on the issues starting with tax raise being too high.

    City is not handling parking money well, food and beverage tax is not a good idea, and the $40 rental inspection program really accomplishes nothing with respect to controlling bad behaviors that tenants do. The $40 checks to make sure all rooms have smoke detectors and there are no paint scraping in the building.

  3. Looks like the city of Evanston Ponzi scheme is coming to an end
    At the last budget hearing one of the council members suggested taking TIF money to pay for the police in the downtown. A young city employee suggest to the council member the money was need to pay of the TIFs.

    The council is continual raiding the TIF funds I would not be surprised if we have a problem there also.

    It appears to me over the years the city council keeps on raiding the funds need to pay off the debt. The pension fund was the same past councils took the money that might have went to pay down the pensions and used it for their patronage programs.

    What interests me – on the Maple ave garage the city let a retail space sit for seven years with no renter in it. Ofcourse they need to finished the space – there is no floor in it. My best guess is we have lost any where between $500,000 to $700,000.

    Where is the over site of the council? They are more worried about nonsense such as people without green cards and useless politcal statements.

    As far as the water and sewer fund
    what the council does not want to tell you they need the money now to replace the water pipes – the system is quite old – look at what happen yesterday in chicago with a line. I think engineering was planning on starting to use the water funds (taxes) for that – the tax payers funds in the water should not go to the pensions.

    Why isn’t the Chamber interested in creating a group of business people to look at the operation of the city?

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