Evanston’s schools and other government entities on average raised property taxes at more than twice the 22 percent inflation rate over the past decade.

But a new study by the Heartland Alliance shows that despite those massive increases, local government units here generally have hit taxpayers less hard than the average for corresponding units across Cook County.

The study says the City of Evanston increased property taxes 57 percent, while the average suburban Cook County municipality boosted taxes 75 percent.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 raised taxes 47 percent and Evanston Township High School raised taxes 43 percent, while the average school district increased its tax levy by 58 percent.

The Town of Evanston’s tax levy rose 41 percent, while the average township increased taxes 63 percent.

The one exception to the pattern came among park districts. While the Ridgeville Park District raised its tax levy 28 percent, less than the park district average of 54 percent. The Lighthouse Park District raised its levy 91 percent, according to the figures Heartland gathered from the county treasurer’s office.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas says municipalities and other taxing districts in the county — despite the big tax increases — are still falling much deeper into debt.

And Ted Dabrowsky, a vice president at the Illinois Police Institute, told Crain’s Chicago Business the increases are unsustainable, are costing the Chicago region jobs and threaten financial collapse unless they are reversed.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Property tax increases soar past inflation rate

    To be honest, I'd be thrilled with an average tax increase of 57% for the past decade… But in my experience, the increases cited above are very "light" from the reality of my property tax bills.  One of my Cook County property tax bills for a modest 2-flat with a coachouse on a 50' x 170' lot, just west of the tracks in SE Evanston, has gone from $3400 in 1997 to +$12,000 in 2010…  (that is +350%)  Perhaps the other communities cited above with 75% increases started with very low baselines…

    With the State of Illinois $200 Billion in debt and the City of Evanston struggling with a massive Pension funding obligation/debt… I can only imagine that the County, the City, the School Districst 65 & 202 and other taxing bodies will be again asking for new increases…(not to mention a variety of new fees).  Including potentially adding to the property tax payers burden with a proposed new school, new additions to the existing ones and funding the annual operating costs.

    I have lived here all my life and I love living here, but I am being taxed out of town and possibly even out of state in the future.

    My thanks to those who are working hard to address escalating cost – I hope those doing hand-stands for spending like it was "boom times" will take a deep breath and tighten their belts…

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  2. Not sustainable

    I agree with Brian Becharas' comments.

    While the fact that property taxes are increasing at more than twice the rate of inflation is a challenge for taxpayers, what is more difficult is that this expense growth is occuring during a period in which income growth is declining.

    The most recent US Census data show that real median incomes in Evanston fell 18% over the last decade from $73,717 to $60,424. (Evanston Now reported this in a story on September 23, 2011)

    In addition, over the last 10 years the poverty rate in Evanston increased more than 50%. In 1999 11.1% of Evanston residents lived in poverty and the most recent data show it's now 17.3%.

    Bottom line – Revenues are falling but expenses are rising.

    And in this environment people want to continue to spend more money and raise the tax burden on others who are already struggling ? And others are fighting to keep a redundant and duplicative Township structure which has an annual budget of $1.5 million?

    1. The problem

      As with all entitlements, which is what city spending is all about, the problem is when you run out of other peoples' money — the taxpayers.

  3. Taxes and Fees Drove Us Out of Evanston

    We recently moved out of Evanston after several years of tax increases and additional invented fees by the city.  We are working class who lived in a modest home and upon examining our finances we decided to move to a different Cook County suburb with a more balanced budget, lower fees and much more reasonable taxes.

    It's almost comical to keep track of the city and all the proposed new fees.  Our income was not going to rise in parallel with the increased costs, so we had to cut bait.

    Bottom line is that if Evanston does not take care of its financial situation, especially given that its citizen demographic is becoming older and more monetarily drained, people will leave and it will not have the resident population to continue its out of control spending.

    1. Please tell us where your relocated to!

      Dear "Pessa",

      Please tell us where your relocated to!

      "…a more balanced budget, lower fees and much more reasonable taxes." Sounds like an attractive combo to me.

      Thanks, Brian G. Becharas

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