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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.

Related document

Proposed 2015 City of Evanston Budget

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. In regards to the newly

    In regards to the newly proposed budget I have a comment as an Evanston resident. The elimination of the of the Vital Records seems ludicrous it only not serve the Evanston community but anyone born in Evanston. I frequent the office since we are still having children. What are the alternatives Cook County Clerk's, NO! Have you ever been there? No comparison. Do not eliminate Vital Records.

  2. Library out of control

    This sounds like a library out of control. Last year they had a 45% increase in taxes. This year, it is another 9%. They went out an hired staff to do professional fund raising. It appears that has been a FAIL. This is what happens when you have an non-elected library board that is unaccountable to taxpayers. They spend a lot of money to expand beyond their basic function.

    It is time for the mayor to select a new library board and hold the mayor accountable to the Evanston taxpayers.

    1. Library
      I completely agree with you Skip. I’m not sure why a town of this small size requires multiple branches either. All library resources should be consolidated at the main downtown branch.

      1. Its the votes
        The Council members wants votes—therefore they bend to people in their district.
        If branches were so vital to students, why don’t they have hours from 4PM to 9PM so students can go after hours ? Instead they are mostly open hours pulp novel readers can go during.
        Look at the books the branches have. Hardly any standard literature or history 8-12 grade students can use–let alone math/science. Even ‘Main’ has been cutting back [getting rid of] Reference books. Yes they added a few more computers but look how many of them are taken up by watching entertainment videos, listening to ‘tunes’ and porn—not exactly what libraries were design for.

        I bet few K-7 grade students can or allowed by parents, to walk to the branches after 6PM and they probably have school activities from when ‘educational’ classes let out until supper time.
        So they keep the branches open, drain resources needed to make Main a good library and then ask for more tax dollars.

        Where are the schools in providing after hours study areas and libraries ?

    2. Library Spending

      I have found the Evanston Library's services and collection to be inferior to Skokie's Library. I think it would behoove the Evanston LIbrary to take a hike over to Skokie and talk with their board of directors to see about a collaborative association to see why Skokie does such a great job and Evanston comes in a far second. Evanston Library needs to evaluate it's facilities costs, it's mission, and it's ability to see if that mission is one that is actually capable of being delivered. 

  3. 2015 Proposed Budget
    After reading the 2015 proposed budget I would like express how I disagree with the decision to eliminate the Vital Records Office which issues birth and death records to resident and non-presidents. I have frequented the the office. The alternatives are neither convenient or economical. The City shifting funds from one service to another (General Assistance) a service they decided to take on. Keep the Vital Records open is one more service we deserve after living in a city that can be somewhat expensive.

  4. The mismanaged mess continues at the water plant

    Recently we saw the major screw up of the Sheridan Road project being delayed with some rather weak excuses, and a cover up by council members, that is they said nothing – but whats worst they approved a 10% water bill increase indirectly – by the way the budget documents say that last year they approved the two additional 10% increases – as I remember I quite clearly asked them if they were approving them and they said NO! – so what is Wally basing this years increase on?

    I am quite aware it is need, since the water  department for years has been covering up its mess, by saying as little as possible. Why would you spend millions to repave Sheridan road and not fix the water main?

    What more interesting these clowns have not produced the new study for the tank, are they hiding it? but the budget shows a 2 million engineering study, for the new tank. Remember the tank is a 20% increase on top of the now two 10% increases, and it is unnecessary.  Were was the director at the last meeting I want him to explain why we need to move NU utilities and acclerate the schedule for NU on the main repairs at taxpayer expense!

    Also I have been asking for well over a year to produce a real study to the condition of the water business, they have been showing the public their screwed up PR documents they have been presenting to the other suburbs they want to sell water, that make NO sense.

    Why no takers?

    Also please explain the Net for the water sales to Desplaines?

    This is a huge mess, Wally remembers of a famous Roman Emperor, who fiddle while Rome buried, except Wally's building Patios while the Water rates go through the roof!

    1. Water Revenue and Permitted Use in Illinois

      Junad – recently I was reading a story in the Trib titled, "Chicago wants Harvey's water collection seized."  I bring it up because there was a paragraph in that story about permitted use of water funds in the State of Illinois.  It was the 12th paragraph in the story that said Chicago's lawyers said the town of Harvey was "breaking a state law that requires municipalities to use water revenues for water expenses only." 

      If Evanston is transferring revenue from the water fund into the general fund, how are they accounting for the fact that those revenues need to be used for water expenses only per state law? 

      This 30% increase in water over a 3 year period is seriously out of control.  Our water rates are already high, the full bill is taxed a ridiculous amount and money is being transferred into the general fund to be used elsewhere.  If Chicago's lawyers are correct (and I'm betting Chicago doesn't hire nincompoops), then Evanston has to show an accounting for those revenues being used toward water expenses only.

      If Evanston wants more revenue, then they should do the tough thing and raise taxes.  I can't write off my water bill, but I can write off my taxes.  I'm getting really frustrated with all of the fees.

      The source story I am quoting is here:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-suburb-water-debt-met-20140829-story.html#page=1

      1. Funds diversion and pleading for higher rates

        The Council's way of raising rates is like the child who kills his parents and pleads for mercy since he is an orphan.  The Council gives the [supposedly dedicated] money away and then pleads for more money.

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