Evanston’s proposed 2018 city budget calls for trimming the city’s staff by 28.3 full-time-equivalent employees, imposing new taxes and hiking parking fees to close a projected $6.1 million general fund revenue shortfall.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says the revenue gap results primarily from a dropoff in new construction projects at Northwestern University. That’s expected to lead to a $5 million decline in building permit revenue.

Adding to the gap are reductions in expected sales tax and income tax revenue largely caused by changes imposed by the state legislature as part of the new state budget.

The proposed budget, released late this afternoon, would impose a new 20-cents-per-ride ground transportation tax on ride share services like Uber and Lyft. That’s less than half the rate charged by the City of Chicago. The ground transportation tax is expected to generate $100,000 a year in new revenue.

It would also impose a new tax on vacation rentals like AirBnB that’s expected to raise $90,000 a year. City staff is not recommending taxing bed and breakfast establishments, estimating that tax would raise only about $10,000.

It would increase parking deck fees from $95 to $110 a month to raise an additional $550,000, extend non-downtown parking meter hours and raise their rates to match the existing $1 an hour rate and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. to raise $450,000, increase surface lot parking rates to $60 a month to raise $160,000 and increase some parking ticket fines.

The plan also calls for raising property taxes by 1.1 percent to generate an additional $421,000 for police and fire pension payments

The budget calls for a 3 percent pay hike for city employees, which will add about $2.4 million to the city’s expenses, but it anticipates a $315,000 reduction in health insurance costs because of changes in health coverage negotiated with city unions.

City staffing levels since 2000.

As part of the staffing cuts the city manager plans to move the Economic Development Division from the manager’s office to the Community Development Department, transfer the Police Department’s Social Services Bureau to the Health Department, consolidate two bureau chief jobs in the Public Works Agency into one and do the same with two recreation center manager jobs in the Parks Department.

Net of interfund transfers, the budget calls for spending a total of $280.5 million in 2018, an increase of $33.4 million from this year. The biggest increases are for capital projects — $16.1 million for the water fund, $9.6 million for the Robert Crown Center and $6.3 million for the library. General fund spending will remain essentially unchanged.

The City Council is scheduled to begin its review of the budget on Monday, Oct. 16.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Too Many Library Locations

    Budgeting an increase of $6.3M to maintain 3 different library locations (plus adding a 4th planned for the renovated Robert Crown Center) is a luxury that the City can’t afford.  A city the size of Evanston does not need anything other than one main library in downtown Evanston that everyone can access.  That is the case for other suburbs with even larger populations than Evanston.  One budget item that should be looked at is what the City can save by eliminating the buildings, staff, and other expenses associated with the extra library locations.  You can also bet that property taxes will be increased beyond the 1.1% mentioned here to fund the multiple libraries with the addition of any separate Library fund levies.

    1. Libraries Times 3-4-5????

      True…Skokie has ONE…so does Wilmette, Winnetka, and  every other suburb.  Who’s the ding-dong who is letting the director,  and/or board run amok, convinving everyone that Evanston needs a LOT of libraries?  What an incredible waste of money…..as always..and no one is watching.  A library at Crown is ridiculous.  Get rid of Ms. Lyons and hire someone who knows how to run ONE library greatly, to service everyone.

      1. NU versus EPL library philosophy

        Odd that EPL wants more branches [which they probably did not research the need for with patrons or experts] while NU has shipped so many books off campus [40 miles], decrease paper journals, seem to have reduced new book purchases, reduced greatly the number of books in the Engineering library [reduced two floors of books/journals to basically a large closet]. I  guess they think neither undegrads, grad students or faculty need paper resources—or is it don’t read/research ?

        Maybe  EPL should talk to NU and see what they know. Frankly both are makiing a mess of their libraries.


      2. Agreed…one library

        One library with as good a collection as those in Skokie or Arlington Heights would be a welcome trade off to 3-4 libraries with inadequate collections. Spend staff time weeding so the collection can feature its gems and people don’t have to pry books out of the shelves, especially in the children’s section. Install new carpet, or at least clean it! Install better lighting. Perform regular maintenance in the main library and it could be the flagship Evanston deserves and its leaders envisioned years ago. Right now it’s mediocre at best. 

  2. Unbelievable

    if you don’t have the money then stop additional spending! Non urgent works that costs millions of dollars can be postponed. Also, no need to fire anyone if we cap city management salaries to $300/year, which is already ridiculous.

  3. Another Sad Day in Evanston

    Why doesn’t the city just drop 6M in planned city spending for next year and fire those responsible for the mistake in the planned budget. 

    1. Too late …

      The community development director who came up with the overly rosy building permit revenue projection last year left several months ago for a new job in another state.

      — Bill

      1. Redo the budget and cut it

        There is no reason why Wally can’t redo the budget and cut it. Get rid of new hires that came aboard this year. Keep employees who hired last year. Do not implement scheduled raises. 

        Better than raising taxes and fees on the innocent bystanders, taxpayers.

        1. well, then……

          That would then prove that Wally can’t manage things….duh!  That’s why he wanted out before everything hit the fan with the budget.   Didn’t anyone see that coming?  Or maybe they didn’t care because it didn’t affect them.  VERY tupical, and too bad for Evanston.

  4. What about Pensions ?

    Looking at the city Pension pages, it seems the rosy investment rates the city uses to fund the obligation, will continue to put taxpayers further behind.  The city has over promised employees for a long time with Pensions and Benefits on top of salary increases and staffing that would get any CEO of a private company fired. But then government employees and esp. Council, City Manager, and Dept. managers feel no obligation to be realistic. And sadly voters turn a blind eye as long as their pet projects/people  are funded.

    1. In a hole

      ..and that’s why Evanston will never be a “livable city” for most.   Unless the city gets a new manager and council people who are truly “for the masses”, Evanston will always be in the hole.  

      1. Please don’t put livability on hold…
        Agreed. Increased taxes can only harm its diversity of residents already needing help to stay. How can Evanston government employees merit raises when livability is put on hold for so many?

  5. City employee staff compensation tied to performance/clawbacks

    How about any city employee from department manager upward, has their salary based on reaching performance goals set by an outside body that is an expert in this and not beholding to city contracts, employees or any group that can reward them.. Maybe 1/3 of scheduled salary [none should be getting bonuses for doing their job] be held until the following year when performance [with no funny business like pushing costs to next year] against goals can be measured. Else have  ‘clawbacks’ if goals not met. 

    1. Only excuse would be…

      The only exceptions for not meeting the goal [indepently determined] would be ‘act of nature’ like snow storm, tornado [or very strong winds taking down trees], etc. or change of federal/state [not city] requirements that were not known or to be expected.

  6. Of course their answer is to tax us “only 1.1%”

    Of course they want to tax us only 1.1%! When will these tax increases end? The schools just lobbied for a HUGE tax increase in Evanston. And other parts of the property tax bill went up too. They act like this is ONLY 1.1%, but when will it end? I will likely have to sell my place before I retire because at this rate I will never be able to afford the property taxes in Evanston in 15 years!

    1. to all council members

      Do NOT extend the contract for the city manager!   Help put an end to all these horrid problems. Do any of you rread the negative comments coming from long-time residents??????  

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