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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4 Comments

  1. Not another dime.
    This is pathetic. The city is starting to look desperate. I encourage everyone to start hammering their aldermen with demands for serious cuts. The selfish special interests need to be drowned out. They don’t represent the majority of us.

    Not another dime, Evanston. Not another dime.

  2. Good effort to be creative
    I am glad that city official is trying out all possibilities to raise $ for Fire and police pension.

    The easiest and laziest answer is to raise tax from citizen without putting any effor to look for alternate solutions.

    Lack fo pension fundtion is a huge issue and Evanston City is desparate. I do not see any issue with looking desperate when we should be desperate to find the solution if we are putting serious effort.

    I am glad that aldermen are reaching out to Unversity for support as University is also benefiting from fire department. I am disappointed on response from University but they are open for project which can be mutually beneficial. With more brainstorming with University, there may be some common solution that should be persued.

    I think we need this type of creative effort and thinking process to be open for any possible solutions.

    Unfortunately, we are where we are. We need to look for solution with positive attitute rather than being negative to call Aldermen’s effort as “Pathetic”. I do not see anything pathetic about this effort at all. I see it as a great step forward to find the solution and is a sign of commitment from aldermen to find creative solution.

  3. NU Approach
    Perhaps council memebers could put on some ragged clothing, grab empty starbucks cups, and work the campus for loose change–those NU students are real easy marks.

    No point in NU forking over any dough to the city for so called “city services”—it’s too vague—Evanston would just find some way to blow it like drunken sailors on shore leave…NU knows if they give an inch—etc—etc…

    What the city should do is find a way to get all NU owned “off campus” housing put on the tax rolls.

  4. NU rebuffs city begging for aid
    Maybe the city should end all services to NU then. If the university wants fire proetection, let them build and man a fire department (like other private schools do). If the University wants traffic control for their sporting events, maybe they should hire enough officers to handle it. If all the buildings on a street are all owned by the university (like orrington, emerson, etc.), maybe the city should quit maintaining the street (plowing the snow, etc.). Also, any child that lives in a tax exempt location should be considered “out of district” and charged tuition. One should ask why other private colleges (yale, harvard, etc.) contribute for the city and school services they use but NU refuses. A few years ago, NU threatened to move to Skokie … Let them go!! The revenue the city would make from putting their property back on the tax rolls would more than make up for the pittance NU gives verses the services they receive!

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