Hitesh Desai.

Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to accept for introduction a proposed budget for next year that calls for spending nearly $321 million, before excluding interfund transfers.

Hitesh Desai, the city’s chief financial officer, in a memo to aldermen, summarized changes made to the projections based on aldermanic discussions since the proposed budget was issued Oct. 4 as follows:

  • Drop a proposed 5 percent self storage fee that had been anticipated to raise $50,000.
  • Reduce parking meter revenue by $260,000 and parking ticket revenue by $15,000 as a result of restoring free parking on Sundays.
  • Continue to hold four positions vacant in the Police Department, rather than restoring one of those positions as had originally been proposed.
  • Add $200,000 in projected athletic and amusement tax revenue based on the approval of holding professional events at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
  • Reduce expenses in the Human Services Division by holding vacant one of 2.5 new positions that had been proposed for that unit.
  • Shift a projected $250,000 in recreational cannabis tax revenue to a newly created Reparations Fund.

Looking further ahead, Desai says the staff projections for the 2021 budget show expenses of under $304 million, a drop of $17 million from this year, primarily because of the completion of the new Robert Crown Center and some projects at the water tretment plant, but general fund expenses are expected to increase about $2 million because of wage increases already agreed to in union contracts.

The aldermen Monday are also scheduled to accept for introduction ordinances imposing several tax levies to fund the 2020 budget.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for the City Council’s Nov. 25 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. No increase

      Hi EW,

      Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue is projected to decrease, not increase, in 2020 from the level budgeted for this year.

      The increase in the tax rate for high-dollar sales went into effect at the start of 2019 following referendum approval of the increase in November 2018.

      Some have suggested that at least a few high-dollar transactions may have taken place a bit sooner than otherwise would have happened so as to close before the end of 2018, before the new tax rates took effect.

      The 2019 budget forecast $4.15 million in revenue from the RETT. Estimated actual revenue for 2019 is now $3.8 million, and the 2020 budget anticipates $3.8 million in revenue.

      Revenue from the RETT had been just over $3.8 million in 2018.

      Yield from this tax has been highly variable over the years, depending on the overall state of the real estate market and on how many large buildings happen change hands in a given year.

      The RETT revenue goes into the general fund. It isn’t earmarked for a particular use.

      — Bill

  1. Pensions

    What percent are city pensions funded?

    what are the city expenditures for police, fire and other municipal employees in 2019 and what is budgeted for the coming fiscal year?

    1. Pension funding reports can

      Pension funding reports can be found here. Fire is about 45% funded at last report, Police about 49% funded.

      The city’s proposed 2020 budget calls for having taxpayers contribute $9.2 million to the fire pension fund, up from $8.3 million this year, and $11.2 million to the police pension fund, up from $10.5 million this year. (See pages 187 and 189 of the budget.)

      Salaries do not appear to be summarized across departments in the budget. But, assuming a commonly used average combined salary and benefits figure per city employee of roughly $100,000 and roughly 800 full time equivalent employees, you’d come up with about $80 million in direct employee costs in a budget that totals, net of interfund transfers, $260 million for 2020, down slightly from $263 million in 2019.

      Total proposed FTE employee count for 2020 is proposed at 809, up from 794 this year.

      — Bill 

      1. Thanks, Bill.

        Thanks, Bill.

        Dare I suggest for the upcoming year we stay at FTE 794 head count (and shrink it via attrition over the future years) and work on getting police, fire, municapal pensions to 77% funded?

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