Evanston’s proposed 2015 city budget calls for a 1.2 percent increase in property taxes, a 10 percent hike in water rates and a 1.4 percent increase in the number of city workers.
The property tax increase is driven primarily by an 11 percent spending increase ordered by the appointed library board, a 20 percent increase in spending for general assistance and a nearly 4 percent increase in police pension funding.
Those increases are partially offset by nearly 8 percent decrease in general fund operating expenses. Some of that decrease is achieved by a roughly 3 percent cut in non-public safety spending for general fund programs. The rest comes from shifting some activites into new special purpose funds.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, in a memo release late Friday as part of the budget package, said total city spending will reach just over $260 million next year, an increase of 2.2 percent.
Bobkiewicz says city revenue from a variety of non-property tax revenue sources is expected to increase next year — without increasing those tax rates — based on a generally improving economy and new and expanded businesses in the city.
Those gains include sales tax revenue increases from new grocery stores and a new auto dealership, an increase in permit revenue from new construction projects, an increase in tax revenue from Northwestern University sporting events and more liquor tax revenue from the city’s expanding restaurant industry.
The budget calls for staffing increases to provide general assistance services formerly offered by the now dissolved township government and increased youth outreach worker staffing in the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.
It also calls, in response to the City Council’s goal-setting process, for increases in spending to maintain streets and sidewalks, the water and sewer system and city buildings as well as economic development activites.
City workers are scheduled to receive wage increases averaging 2.6 percent in 2015 under contracts negotated this year.
The budget will be presented to the City Council at a meeting on is formally presented to City Council on Monday, Oct. 20. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 25.