Government costs more in Evanston

Evanston spends 15.7 percent more per person than its neighbor Skokie on local government services.

The city will spend nearly $199 million in the fiscal year that ends next month to provide a bundle of services provided by three different government bodies in Skokie — the village, the library board and the park district.

Those three Skokie governmental units combined are spending nearly $148 million this fiscal year.

Adjust for Evanston’s estimated 2007 population of 75,905 compared to Skokie’s 66,659, and Skokie spends just over 84 cents per capita for every dollar spent by Evanston.

As Evanston aldermen work toward adopting a budget next month for the new fiscal year, and as candidates compete in April’s mayoral and aldermanic contests. it’s worth taking a closer look at the spending differences between the two neighboring towns.

And a close look at spending is especially critical this year as the city attempts to deal with the slowdown in the housing market and the general economy that put extra strain on many municipal revenue sources.

The level of funding in the two communities varies widely for different services.

Library and parks spending

With independent library and parks boards setting those budgets, Skokie spends far more than Evanston on those two service categories.

The library budget in Skokie totals $12.4 million, compared to about $5.4 million in Evanston, including about $600,000 for capital improvements in Evanston.

Skokie’s park district is spending $26.9 million this year.

The equivalent budget in Evanston is a little hard to nail down because facilities management for all city buildings and forestry services for parkway trees are included in the parks department. But it appears that parks and recreation spending this year in Evanston totals about $17.6 million, including $3.6 million for capital improvements.

So, on a per capita basis, Skokie spends $2.60 on library service for every dollar Evanston spends. And Skokie spends $1.74 on parks for every dollar Evanston spends.

Core municipal services

But when you compare services that the municipality provides in both communities, the picture changes.

The Village of Skokie spends less than $109 million on all the functions it provides, while after excluding the library and parks components of the city’s budget, the Evanston will spend nearly $176 million this year.

On a per capita basis that means for a similar bundle of services Skokie spends just 70-cents for every dollar spent by Evanston.

Among the municipal departments with the biggest discrepancies:

  • Health and Human Services — where Skokie spends 32-cents per capita for every dollar Evanston spends.
  • General administration and human resources — where Skokie spends 42 cents per capita for every dollar Evanston spends.
  • Police — where Skokie spends 73 cents per capita for every dollar Evanston spends.

We’ll take a closer look at spending levels in those service categories in coming days.

Related links

Evanston City Budget

Skokie Village Budget



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