Evanston’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday night recommended City Council approval of a consultant’s contract to plan for the creation of a special service area taxing district along Central Street.

The contract, for $24,035, is being recommended for award to Teska Associates Inc. of Evanston.

Creation of the district has been requested by the Central Street Business Association.

In a memo to the committee, Economic Development Divison Manager Paul Zalmezak said the merchant association members have concluded that annual grants to the business district from the city, which are typically capped at $10,000, have been helpful but not sufficient to create events and other marketing tools that would attract more foot traffic to the district.

The special service area taxes typically are applied only to commercial properties in a district.

Evanston has two existing SSAs. One, for Downtown Evanston, was created in 1987. The other, for the Main-Dempster Mile district along Chicago Avenue, was formed in 2015.

The committee also accepted annual reports from both SSAs Wednesday night and recommended approval of their tax levy funding requests for 2019.

Katherine Gotsick.

Main-Dempster Mile Executive Director Katherine Gotsick said the group has launched an online business director and a meet the merchants blog on its website and added several new events to its programming this year.

The seeking a tax levy of $221,000 toward a total budget of $291,500 for 2019.

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley said the group is seeking $525,000 in its SSA tax levy for next year plus an additional $50,000 from the city for maintenance services.

That’s a substantial reduction from the direct contribution from the city of $181,670 this year. The reduction is make possible largely by the expiration of the Washington National tax increment financing district, which makes additional tax revenue available to the SSA.

Downtown Evanston’s proposed budget for 2019 is $580,000.

Downtown Evanston next year will also be preparing for a vote to reconstitute the district, which is required under state law roughly every 10 years.

All three measures now go to the City Council for final action.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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