City manager seeks 4.9% tax hike

The City of Evanston’s proposed budget calls for a 4.9 percent increase in property taxes to help close a hole created by the slumping economy.

The draft budget for 2009-10, released this afternoon by Interim City Manager Rolanda Russell, says the banking and financial crisis that began in October likely will knock nearly $1 million from the city’s revenue stream during the coming year.

That’s on top of a $2.8 million deficit projected when the city staff began assembling the budget last fall, caused largely by costs for salaries and benefits rising faster than city revenue.

In a memo to aldermen, Russell says the staff is proposing nearly $2 million in expenditure cuts, leaving a $1.8 million gap.

Those cuts include:

  • Eliminating 14.5 vacant full-time-equivalent city jobs to save $1.1 million.
  • Reducing employee cost of living adjustments from 3.5 to 2.5 percent to save $460,000.
  • Reducing merit pay increases from 3 percent to 2.5 percent to save $230,000.

The budget document offers several options for eliminating the remaining deficit, including cutting city staff, reducing city services, eliminating city contributions to non-profit groups and drawing down budget fund reserves.

The proposed new budget totals $235.5 million, a 7.5 percent increase over the current budget, but most of that increase is the result of one-time capital expenses paid from existing fund reserves.

The City Council will hold hearings on the budget in January and February. It has to adopt a budget before the start of the city’s new fiscal year March 1. The first council budget workshop will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10.

Related link

Proposed City of Evanston 2009-10 budget (7.6 MB .pdf file)

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