Aldermen begin considering next year’s budget Monday night faced with an unpleasant reality — the city’s spending has been increasing far more rapidly than the incomes of Evanston residents.

City salary records show that from 2009 to 2015 the city’s total payroll costs increased 12.6 percent, while Census Bureau data shows that during the same period the median household income in Evanston rose just 0.7 percent. (More recent median income figures aren’t yet available.)

And the increase in the city’s payroll came despite a nearly 3 percent decline in the number of full-time-equivalent city employees during that period.

The city’s ability to control its payroll costs without layoffs is limited because about 80 percent of the city’s workforce is unionized.

The union contracts have arbitration clauses that mean if the city presses too hard to hold down pay hikes, it could end up being forced to give workers what the union asked for — if an arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor on the wage issue.

The city now has agreements with most of its unions that provide for a 3 percent pay hike next year. But the city, instead of reaching a three-year agreement as it has typically done in the past, agreed to a two year deal, retroactive to the start of 2017, which means the city will have a chance to revisit the pay issue in just another year.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is calling for a net reduction in full-time-equivalent jobs for 2018 of 28 positions, or about 3.5 percent of the workforce.

In an interview, Bobkiewicz said even if he has to reduce the total city workforce, he’d prefer to keep pay rates competitive for the workers who remain, so the city doesn’t face employee retention problems.

Total city spending next year is expected to reach $280.5 million, net of interfund transfers. Thats a 38 percent increase from the $203.5 million spent in the 2009-10 fiscal year and a $33.4 million increase over this year.

Much of the year-over-year increase is for capital projects for the water fund, the Crown Center and the library.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


    1. Agree…..

      Yep….the uncontrollable spending comes from 4th floor employees, who are letting things get out of contraol…(as long as their salaries/jobs are safe…what the heck???)   Crown needs repair or replacement.   The need for multiple libraries?,,,Ridiculous!   Bad money management, bad decisions, and no foresight on how to correct things.   Can’t somebody with a logical brain step in and change the way things are run in Evanston…once and for all?  Smart people are leaving… workers are getting the shaft, and taxes are going up and up…..These should be real clues to most people!

    2. The good ol’boys Syracuse

      The good ol’boys Syracuse club is strong. If Wally can interview for a job, not get it, and still be welcomed back with open arms (all while facing a serious discrimition lawsuit), expect ZERO changes. When will the council take REAL action on this problem?

  1. Do not vote for anyone connected to the Democratic party

    The unions control Evanston, Cook County, Chicago and Illinois politics. Democrats have a supermajority in the state house. More than 90 percent of all union campaign donations go to Democrat politicians. I don’t think there is even one Republican politician in Evanston, Chicago or Cook County.

    Meanwhile, the pension deficit balloons out of control and is an inevitable fiscal train wreck. As long as voters keep voting in Democrat politicians the crash will happen one of these days. Government union members can retire in their 50s earning an annual 50-75 percent of their final pay for life with a guaranteed 3 percent annual pay raise. There’s a $130 billion shortfall in what’s needed to pay employee pensions. The union pension system is unsustainable. Evanston’s previous police and fire chiefs retired in their 50s earning their pensison pay and are now working in the same capacity in the state, earning a paycheck and another pension.

    Illinois has $9 billion worth of checks that are being delayed because the state lacks the money to pay them. Many of the bills that are 90 days or older face a 1 percent-per-month late-payment fee; about $5.5 billion of the current $15.9 billion backlog is subject to the penalty. Senate Democrats this year passed a $37 billion tax hike, costing an annual additional $1,125 for each household. Democrats and a handfull of Republlicans this year overrode Gov. Rauner’s veto on the income tax hike, As a result, personal income tax rate goes from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate income tax rate went from 5.25 percent to 7 percent..

    Our city leaders have not and will not battle the unions on pay raises because they are financially entangled  – they need each other. The only solution to this insane fiscal mess – the worst in the nation – is to never vote for a Democrat and vote for outsiders who have no affiliation whatsoever with the Democratic party. We have to starve the monster known as the Democratic party.

    1. Pensions protected by Illinois Constitution

      Voting Republican isn’t going to change the constitution of Illinois which protects public pensions. Need to vote for a constitutional convention to even next consider it. The next chance is in 2020.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *