The property tax increase proposed in Evanston’s 2012 city budget is more than five times larger than the hike percentage permitted local school districts under the state’s tax cap.

The property tax increase proposed in Evanston’s 2012 city budget is more than five times larger than the hike percentage permitted local school districts under the state’s tax cap.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is asking for a property tax increase of 7.91 percent for 2012. Under state law, school districts will be limited to a 1.5 percent increase — based on the annual inflation rate as of January.

That’s a dramatic change from this year, when the city’s property tax hike, at 3.17 percent, was just slightly higher than the 2.7 percent increase permitted the schools under the tax cap.

Home rule communities, like the city, are exempt from the state-imposed tax cap designed to prevent taxing bodies from exceeding the rate of inflation in their property tax hikes unless they seek voter approval.

Except for the city and Cook County, most governmental units that levy a property tax against Evanston homeowners — including School Districts 65 and 202 and Oakton Community College — are restricted by the tax cap.

District 65 board members have indicated they likely will seek voter approval in 2012 to issue bonds to construct a new school on the city’s west side.

Bobkiewicz, at a City Council budget meeting Saturday, conceded that economic conditions are still very difficult for many city residents, but said the city needs to raise taxes to fund the services residents want.

“We can’t stop providing those services because that’s who we are,” the manager said, claiming that more cuts would mean “further deterioration” of the city as a place to live, shop and work.

In addition to the property tax hike, the manager is also proposing raising fees and fines to generate about $2 million in additional revenue.

He’s also set aside funds in the budget to give city workers a 2 percent pay hike, subject to the results of union contract talks now underway. 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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14 Comments

  1. If the city council passes

    If the city council passes this increase, then all residents of evanston should collectively vote out their aldermen.  

  2. Clarification on proposed City tax increase

    Bill, can you or someone else clarify the discrepancy between the proposed 7.91% tax increase and other reports of a 3% tax increase? Also, if you factored in the additional proposed fee increases what is the apples to apples "effective tax" increase? Call it a fee or a tax, it's still money out of taxpayers pockets.

    Also, with the upcoming salary negotiations, people should be aware that over the last decade that median US real income DECLINED 7%. From 2000 to 2010, the US Census Bureau data reports a decline of 7%. Read Phil Izzo's 10/14/2011 Wall Street Journal article, "Bleak News for Americans' Income" for more details.

     

    1. And the effective percentage of the tax bill?

      I'd also like to see the effective percentage of the total tax bill which results if all projected increases go through.

      Not to belittle the impact of the proposed increase, I believe the schools will still account for the lion's share of property taxes. While the city's percentage of the total bill is growing, citizens should not think of this as translating to 7% or 8% higher property taxes, right?

      1. All taxing bodies combined

        Assuming that Cook County government increases its tax rate no more than the 1.5 percent limit that applies to the tax-capped government entities, and that Evanston aldermen adopt the increases proposed by the city manager, the overall property tax bill increase for all agencies, as calculated by Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons, would be 2.76 percent.

        However, I don't see the logic of concluding that it is OK for one governmental entity to increase its taxes far beyond the rate of inflation, just because others have their taxes limited to the inflation rate.

        Why should a cap on school taxes give the city license to jack up its rates?

        Also, in thinking about the overall property tax bill, one has to consider the likely impact of the new school referendum that District 65 is preparing.

        — Bill

    2. How big is that tax hike?

      Hi Jim,

      The inaccurate reports published by the Evanston Review and the Evanston RoundTable of a 3 percent tax increase are apparently based on a statement by the city manager in the introduction to the budget document in which he referred to a 3 percent increase in the general fund operating property tax levy.

      But Evanston's property tax includes general fund, pension and debt service components. When the increases for all of those elements are added together, the total proposed percentage increase in the city's property tax levy is 7.91 percent.

      You would have to consult two pages of the budget document — p. 13 for the general fund number and p. 39 for the other funds numbers to make sense of this.

      You would also have to know that the body of the proposed budget is prepared to not show proposed general fund spending and revenue changes and showing a deficit which legally has to be closed. The rationale for that is to leave open to aldermen various alternatives for closing the deficit, which are presented separately at the front of the budget document.

      But that means that the amount stated on p. 39 for the general fund does not include the increase that the manager is proposing.

      I have confirmed with Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons that the 7.91 percent overall increase in the total city property tax levy Evanston Now has reported is correct.

      I hope that at some point in the future the other publications will correct their erronious reports. People who read those publications might want to ask their editors to make the correction.

      Bill

  3. Why Wait for the Election

    We could have a recall for all the aldermen.  That would get rid of them quicker and put us out of the misery they have caused the residents.

    Maybe they can move to LaLa land and try to get on the Berkeley city council.   Oh wait even the Marxist community of Berkeley finally came to their senses and realized that sanity has to rule over peace and love for everyone except for those who work.

    The Evanston Council seems to think manna [money] will one day fall from heaven and they won't need taxpayers to pay for their Utopia.

  4. Simple Fix

    Is the City Manager still suggesting that $2 million of capital projects be funded by the operating budget?  If so, that amounts to approximately 5% of this Property Tax Hike.  Tell the City Manager NO! and bring the rate down to under 3%. 

    Also, the 911 center staffing was to be cut based on actual call volume.  Is that decrease reflected in the proposed budget? 

    Simple solutions go a long way!

    1. Not so simple

      Hi,

      Sorry, but the idea the manager floated earlier in the year of shifting $2 million from the general fund to reduce capital borrowing needs has faded. He's now proposing a shift of only $500,000.

      In any case, if you assume a certain amount of capital spending is needed, whether the money comes from general fund cash or from issuing bonds is only a choice between paying a dollar now or paying a dollar plus interest later.

      I think you mean 311 rather than 911? If so, yes, the budget includes a proposal for $50,000 in spending reductions on that as the city adjusts coverage hours to meet demand.

      — Bill

  5. Armchair politicking

    • QUIT TURNING AWAY BUSINESS
    • Decrease pay for Mayor, Council and City Manager by 5%
    • Freeze hiring
    • Freeze/cut spending
    • Scale back street cleaning in summer
    • Raise fines
    • Charge for the first hour of parking in all city garages
    • Quit buying  properties
    • Quit giving non-elected people the power to raise taxes
    • Close the branch libraries

    These small changes alone would save or create millions of dollars.  I’m sure other people have even better ideas.  I think this city and its elected officials need to stop wasting time on matters like dangerous dogs, and whether they want to be called Aldermen or Alderpeople, and focus on the nuts and bolts that will make this city operate better.

  6. Cyclical Problem

    A lot of folks think we should vote out our City Council and Mayor. 

    But, while we may replace bodies in the chamber, we will most likely NOT replace the ideology that the Council and Mayor subscribe to.  Here is what I mean:

    • I would venture to think that 90% of our City Council (Mayor included) is Democrat.
    • And I would venture to think that the majority of prior Mayors and Alderman were… Democrat.
    • Evanston is a majority left / Democrat town, makes sense.

    So take a look at our city. 

    Are you happy with the condition it is in? 

    It would be nice to be able to change the thinking in Evanston government instead of just replacing bodies every four years who govern from the Left.

    1. Party politics?

      For what it's worth, only Evanston's two most recent mayors have been identified as Democrats. Of course, you have to go back two decades, to Joan Barr, to find the last Republican.

      — Bill

  7. Planning games

    Has anyone thought about the “Planning Game” the alderman and mayor might be playing?  They propose a high budget with an 8% increase fully knowing they will cut it down to 4%.  Then they go back and tell the citizens look we cut the increase in half and the sheeple are now happy to accept only 4% tax increase.

  8. $21,000 Tax bill for $650K Condo

    I just recieved my tax bill from my building management. I was told in 2010 it would be between 8k and 12k but it is evenaston so expect 12k. 

    I have a 1800 square feet condo and paid 680. I had appraise 2 months ago for 650.

    This is a bunch of BS and once other thinking about moving to Evanston to start a family find out about how lousy their mayor and alderman are they will never consider coming.

    1. check your assessed value

      $21,000 is high for a property valued at $650,00.  Sounds like the Cook County Assessor has your property valued at a higher rate.   Not sure how they do things for condos or if you have the homeowner's exemption, but we pay $13,000 for our house  which is assessed at $649,000.   The Board of Review is open until October 24th, so I would look into filing with them.

      Good Luck.

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