Ald. Devon Reid (8th) proposed new and increased taxes and fees during a special City Council meeting on the city budget Monday night.
His proposals included:
- Expanding the non-resident charge for parking at the lakefront to apply to city recreation facilities like the Crown Center and the Levy Center.
- Increasing the wheel tax by another $5 next year, after a $5 increase this year, to raise $250,000.
- Increasing the city’s gasoline tax by 33% — from 3-cents to 4-cents a gallon, to raise $200,000.
- Imposing a tax on the use of plastic bags.
- Generating more sales and tobacco tax revenue by authorizing the establishment of Hookah bars in the city.
He suggested the new taxes and fees could add perhaps $1 million in new revenue for the city next year and suggested spending the money to further expand the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan efforts.
Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) questioned whether the parking charge at the rec centers might reduce the number of non-residents who sign up for revenue-generating programs at the centers.
But Reid said, “I don’t think so.”
Before making beach access free for city residents, the city generated about $1 million a year from resident and non-resident beach token fees.
Hitesh Desai, the city’s CFO said that this year the city has generated $513,000 in non-resident token revenue and Reid said the parking fees have added another $300,000.
“That takes us back to roughly where we were on beach revenue” before the city stopped charging residents for tokens, Reid said.
Reid, who has said he doesn’t own a car, said his proposed increase in the motor fuel tax would still leave Evanston’s tax on gasoline just half the 8-cent rate charged by Chicago.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) suggested creating a “dynamic parking” program for the recreation centers — charging more at peak hours.
It was unclear from discussion during the meeting whether any other council members supported the tax and fee increases Reid was proposing, but they may be up for introduction as formal proposals at the Council’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.
At the request of Mayor Daniel Biss the council voted to table the budget and tax levy ordinances that had been on the special meeting agenda for introduction, until the Nov. 14 meeting.
That will leave the budget process on track for final budget approval to occur at a special Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 21.