Evanston aldermen tonight will review budget adjustments that would reduce the overall city property tax increase next year from 5.4 to 3.5 percent — still well above the rate of inflation.

The changes come from a mix of higher-than-forecast revenue streams from some current taxes and fees, a larger than previously planned increase in building permit fees, and elimination of a few planned purchases — including a mobile city hall vehicle.

Top: Revised chart showing the new projected property tax increase for 2014. Compare a chart showing the tax hike in the original budget proposal. Above: A mobile city hall vehicle, like the Boston version shown here, is stripped from the city manager’s latest budget proposal.

It also uses anticipated one-time revenue from a surge in major construction projects, mainly on the Northwestern University campus, to cover some increased debt service payments and capital improvement spending.

The remaining boost in property taxes would come from a 39 percent increase in spending attributed to the library. About half that increase represents shifting debt service and administrative overhead spending previously covered in other city accounts to library tax lines.

Under state law the appointed library board gets to set its own spending level, which is not subject to review by the City Council. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who appoints the board members, has defending the library spending increase, saying library programs have been underfunded for years.

The original budget called for increasing building permit fees by $1 per $1,000 for construction projects up to $1 million and by $2 per $1,000 for bigger projects, a move expected to generate $300,000 in new revenue. The revised plan boosts each of those increases by another 50-cents and is expected to pull in an additional $150,000.

The latest budget also anticipates reducing proposed increases in garbage collection fees.

The original budget had called for increasing fees for 95-gallon garbage carts by $4 a month and adding $2 to the fee for 65-gallon carts as well as increasing fees for yeard waste carts and yard waste stickers.

The version cuts the increase for the big carts to $3 and eliminates the rest of the increases. That’s expected to reduce the revenue increase from $900,000 to $380,000 requiring an increase in the subsidy the general fund provides to the solid waste fund.

No formal action is scheduled on the 2014 budget at tonight’s meeting. Adoption of the budget is scheduled for a week later, at the council’s Monday, Nov. 25, meeting.

Update 6:45 a.m. 11/19/13: Please consult this story for updated numbers on the reduction in the tax levy increase.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Library tax increase

    If those who want to have a library branch in their backyard would wake up to reality that you actually have a very good library downtown, we would not have the increases.  It is kind of a reverse NIMBY—here  they want a branch in their block even though there is CTA and Metra service and of course biking/walking off the extra pounds.  I imagine many of those who "can't live without" their branch are the same ones who push for better education but would not give up the North or South branch and lift a finger to put a branch—if needed–in the west side where it might actually do some good.

    Many communities are happy if they have one library—some have had to close their only library or share with another town.

  2. Trouble.

    "Under state law the appointed library board gets to set its own spending level, which is not subject to review by the City Council"

    If true, this fact provides very fertile ground for the fleecing of Evanston taxpayers.


  3. Problem 1: The library has

    Problem 1: The library has hired 7 new people and expanded their idea of changing a library into a social services organization. Did the library change from an excellent library to a 3rd rate library in the last 12 months or is the library leadership just trying to make a name for themselves on the back of the taxpayers. This is what happens when there is an unaccountable unelected board that is free to tax you and do what they want.

    Fix 1: Dump the mayor that selected this board. Call your state legislatures and ask them to change the law that allowed the library board to act without accountability.

    Problem 2: Coming soon. Hint: It contains getting rid of Wally's Propaganda Mobil and trading 1 tax for another.

    Fix 2: Has to do with using less water that is supplied by the city and compacting your trash to get the 65 gallon trash can. Also, getting rid of Wally the Weasel, not to be confused with Rohm the Weasel from Chicago,


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