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Council rejects two tax hikes

Evanston aldermen Monday rejected a proposed rental apartment license fee and a proposed 1 percent tax on restaurant meals.

They then postponed until a special meeting Wednesday decisions on whether to cut spending or further increase the property tax to fill the $1.2 million hole those decisions left in the city budget.

Under state law the council must adopt a balanced budget by Friday.

About 150 people packed the council chamber for the apartment licensing discussion and several dozen landlord from across the city spoke against it.

They said the plan would not be effective in solving problems created by a small number of problem tenants and landlords and would instead burden good landlords with administrative hassles and expense and raise costs for good tenants.

No tenants offered views on the ordinance and two condo owners who live near apartment buildings with problem tenants supported the measure.

Several aldermen said they believed the plan was flawed but that they might support a revised version later.

The measure was rejected on a 5-4 vote with aldermen Holmes, Rainey, Tisdahl and Wollin, casting the votes for it.

Earlier this month the aldermen caught restaurant owners by surprise when they unanimously approved approved a 1 percent increase in the tax on restaurant meals and non-alcoholic beverages. 

But after efforts by the owners to change minds on the council, the aldermen voted 6-3 Monday to drop the new tax. Only aldermen Hansen, Rainey and Wollin voted for it Monday.

The owners say the tax would make it extremely difficult for their businesses to compete with hotels and restaurants in other communities for banquet and private party business — situations where the tax difference could mean several hundred dollars added to the bill.

If no further changes are made, the council will have to increase the property tax levy by 9.29 percent to balance the budget.

The aldermen did approve the following tax and fee hikes:

  • Increasing charges for taxicab licenses to raise $55,000. The measure also authorizes an increase in rates taxi drivers charge their passengers.
  • Increasing in parking meter rates downtown from 50-cents to 75-cents per hour.
  • Increasing the fee for a city vehicle stickers by $15 to raise $495,000.
  • Increasing business license fees and creating a new $25 fee for home-based businesses, measures designed to raise $85,500.
  • Creating a new $2.50 per month fee for households having a second garbage cart to raise $100,000.
  • Adding $5 to the fee for residential parking stickers to raise $35,000.
  • Increasing city motor fuel tax from 2-cents to 3-cents per gallon to raise $137,000.

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