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New construction helps spread city tax burden

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Figures from the Cook County Clerk's office show that new buildings added to Evanston's tax rolls over the past decade now account for more than 6 percent of the total equalized assessed value of all property in town.

With the city landlocked and essentially completely developed, new construction — largely represented by high-rise residential developments downtown — amounts to the primary way to share the burden of property taxes more broadly.

And for the decade between 2006 and 2015 new construction added $135.5 million to the equalized assessed value of property here, according to the clerk's office data.

Meanwhile, given the impact of the recession, the total EAV of all property in Evanston is lower than it was a decade ago — $2.19 billion in 2015, compared to $2.24 billion in 2006.

The breakdown of EAV by property classes for the latest tax year isn't available — but reassessment notices sent to homeowners earlier this year showed on average a 25 percent increase in residential assessments — which may indicate a substantial shift in the tax burden to homeowners from commercial and industrial property.

Figures are not readily available to determine the impact of the new construction on demand for city services.

The city's total spending rose from $176 million in 2006 to $230 million in 2015. About 60 percent of that increase can be attributed to the increase in the cost of living during that period.

And a significant part of the rest reflects increases in public safety pension payments and other costs that have risen far faster than the inflation rate.

The number of full-time-equivalent city employees in 2015 was 817, down from 891 in 2006. And the city's population last year was estimated at 75,527 — up just over 1,000 from five years earlier.

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