Evanston city staff will suggest a range of possible tax and fee hikes to aldermen tonight — including boosting the sales tax and the real estate transfer tax.

In a memo to aldermen, staff suggests that a quarter-percent increase in the city’s home-rule sales tax would bring in $1.5 million in new revenue.

Of 33 nearby communities checked, 21 charge the same 10 percent total sales tax that Evanston does. Five charge a quarter percentage point less. Four — including Chicago, Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove — charge 10.25 percent and the other four charge rates between 10.5 and 11 percent.

An increase in the real estate transfer tax to $7 per thousand from the current $5 per thousand rate is projected to raise $1.4 million in new revenue.

But that increase would require voter approval at a referendum. The last RETT hike proposal went down to defeat in 2006 on a 52-48 vote.

Several nearby communities have no real estate transfer tax. Most others charge less than Evanston. The exceptions are Oak Park at $8 and Chicago at $10.50.

Other possibilities the memo mentions include:

  • Increasing the wheel tax on vehicles registered here from $75 to $95 to raise $500,000.
  • Doubling the tax on Uber and other transportation network providers from 20-cents to 40-cents per ride to raise $300,000.
  • Eliminating the first hour free program at city garages to raise $195,000.
  • Creating a new 1 percent tax on prepared food and beverages, which might raise $175,000.
  • Raising the hotel tax by 0.5 percent to raise $115,000

And other ideas for which the staff hasn’t developed revenue estimates include several that would hit drivers:

  • Installing parking meters along the lakefront.
  • Increasing hourly parking garage fees and monthly fees at garages and surface lots.
  • Eliminating free Sunday parking at meters and garages.
  • Exploring the sale of the Maple Avenue parking garage.

And they’re also floating ideas to increase boat rack and launch fees and increasing the athletic event tax.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Solution for everything … raise taxes, increase fees!

    We don’t know how to balance a budget and work with the money we have… let’s tax our residents on everything! Why don’t you cut the healthcare given to the Aalderman?? These are PT workers….actually I think the 3rd Ward alderman works fewer hours that a PT employee, yet her healthcare is paid by the city. Start there.

    1. Reasonable, constructive and attainable suggestions

      Only reasonsble, constructive and attainable suggestions will succeed more greatly than impractical complaining.

  2. Tax Hike

    Instead of a tax hike, how about sending the city manager hiking. At this rate, Evanston won’t have any residents because they will have been Taxed Out.

    1. Take a hike!

      What a great suggestion!   Funny how he always has the perfect answers to the budgetary problems, and they never involve anybody on the 4th floor!   Yet the aldermen approved his contract again, after knowing that he was all set to flee Evanston for Seattle….that just showed how much he really cares.  If all the Evanstonians would just rebel, write letters, and start a campaign for protecting its residents against all this tomfoolery, maybe the voices would be heard.  People can demand resignations, impeachments, etc……the masses make a difference, but they have to take action instead of just sitting back and letting bad things happen to good people.

  3. Brutal

    Be sure to pick up the latest pamphlet by the city council “How to Destroy a Nice Neighborhood” with a foreward by Illinois Democrats.

  4. Tax Hike

    How about we send the City Manager hiking instead of a tax hike. At this rate, it’s quite visible that the city is pushing out anyone that is not economically viable. Which will target our Seniors and our Disabled and financially challenged residents. Diversity will become divided.

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