Northwestern University officials have rejected a plea from Evanston aldermen that the school contribute $1 million a year to pay for city fire services to its Evanston campus.

NU vice president Eugene Sunshine, in an e-mail response to the aldermen, said the school already pays “well over $1.5 million” annually to the city “for which we get little if any service from the city.”

Sunshine cited two tax examples. He said the university pays all of the roughly $550,000 raised annually by the city’s athletic contest tax.

In addition, he said, the school pays about $250,000 or 30 percent of the money the city raises from its home-rule tax on natural gas usage.

He said the revenue generated by the taxes “is essentially unrestricted” so it could be used to fund pensions or whatever other city needs the aldermen chose.

Sunshine said the university will continue to work with the city and school districts “on projects that provide mutual benefit.”

“There have been a number of successes we have had in this regard, and we know there will be additional opportunities,” he added.

The full text of Sunshine’s email message is available here.

The university operates its own police force, but relies on the city for fire protection. The fire department budget for next year is estimated at $12 million plus nearly $5.7 million for firefighter pensions.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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