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City tax hikes outpace income growth

Evanston’s property tax levy has soared 56 percent in the past decade, while the median household income in Illinois has grown only about 15 percent.

Evanston’s property tax levy has soared 56 percent in the past decade, while the median household income in Illinois has grown only about 15 percent.

During the decade the annual increase in incomes has only exceeded the increase in property taxes in two years. Income data for 2010 is not yet available from the Census Bureau.

We had hoped to be able to use income data for Evanston residents alone for this comparison. But except for decennial census years, the Evanston data varies wildly in Census Bureau estimates because of an extremely small sample size, and it’s only available as a three year average with data series starting in 2005.

Using the Evanston data for 2005-07 shows a 12.5 percent cumulative income increase since 2000 — less than for the state as a whole. But the 2006-08 estimate for Evanston, the most recent available, shows a 28.6 percent cumulative increase since 2000 — nearly double the state increase, but still well below the increase in the city’s tax levy.

The proposed city budget for 2011 submitted by the city manager calls for a 4.2 percent increase in the tax levy, while economic forecasts raise doubts that local workers will see pay increases anywhere near that large next year.

And that 4.2 percent increase is reached only after closing a budget gap of over $3 million through a combination of layoffs and increases in other city taxes and fees.

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City tax hikes run double the rate of inflation

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Data sources and spreadsheet calculations used for this story

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