Members of Evanston’s Parking Committee learned Wednesday night that the city rakes in about $500,000 a year from taxes it collects on parking fees charged at Evanston Hospital.

That led Alderman Colleen Burrus, 9th Ward, to suggest that city officials should talk to executives at St. Francis Hospital about ending its free parking policy so the city could collect the tax on fees people would pay to park there.

“Even if it’s half of what Evanston Hospital generates, it could be significant money,” Burrus said.

St. Francis, which is located in the city’s 8th Ward, eliminated parking fees in the hospital’s garage and lots some years ago in an effort to reduce on-street parking congestion in its high-density neighborhood.

The parking tax generates a total of $1.8 million in revenue for the city each year.

About one-third of the revenue — or $650,000 — comes from tax payments included in monthly permit fees in the city’s own garages. After Evanston Hospital, Northwestern University is the biggest private source of parking tax revenue at about $440,000.

Parking garages at downtown hotels and office buildings account for the rest.

City officials are in the midst of trying to find ways to close a projected $8 million gap in next year’s city budget.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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13 Comments

  1. It’s bad enough we get nickel
    It’s bad enough we get nickel and dimed through our insurance companies and now they want to charge for parking?
    I’m surprised they haven’t put parking meters at the city hall lot.

  2. No the city should not charge
    No the city should not charge for Parking at St Francis. Time to get rid of the gold plated retirement plans for city workers and go to a 401k like the rest of the world. More money for the city will only perpetuate their budget problems.

  3. Way to reach out to folks during the recession!
    Perhaps the executives should pay for parking! I’m not sure why folks who need to be at the hospital or are visiting loved ones at the hospital need another burden heaped upon them in the form of parking fees. I’d rather see a slight increase in property taxes (also unpopular, I realize) than targeting folks who have to be at the hospital.

  4. Roll back
    I take it that any new government revenue sources will be repealed once the economy picks back up again? Yeah. Right.

    Here’s an idea. Cut spending! Wow. Revolutionary! Show some spine, Evanston. Come on.

    Actually, they should debate this for the next 6 months to a year and not really do anything. That way it’ll look like 1) they tried to do something and 2) oh, well, we don’t need to do anything anymore since the economy is better. Then everyone will be happy. I like that idea. A lot.

  5. Parking St. Francis
    Get a life alderman. You want to tax people to death. Perhaps you should be lobbying for Northwestern to pay the city some taxes. Then the dollar shortfall would disappear

  6. Dear Ms. Alderman Colleen
    Dear Ms. Alderman Colleen Burrus…

    If you are so sure it is a good idea, why don’t you go down there yourself and ask the St. Francis Hospital executives to start charging its patients for parking?

    I would love to be a fly on the wall when they tell you to buzz off and get lost. It is a private hospital and what I would assume is privately owned land. The city should have no right to even ask them to consider this.

    What’s next? Is the city going to suggest that St. Francis Hospital start offering abortions so that they can tack on a 10% sales tax to raise revenue?

    This statement and thought process by Alderman Burrus should outrage everyone!

  7. Close Budget Gap = Cut Spending!
    What will they think of next? Installing vending machines along residential parkways to raise city revenue? Surrounded by attractive shrubs, of course!

  8. I am not going to pile on
    I am not going to pile on Ald Burrus because I don’t know what she said, not having been present. I can tell you that St. Francis Hospital is the best institutional neighbor any community could have.

    For years, like all other owners of garages, they charged patients, visitors and employees. Neighbors and I went back and forth with the hospital for years over the issue of congestion and 24 hour, 3 shift parking in the neighborhood. The hospital administration was always supportive of the neighbors and the problems posed by the tremendous number of cars not wanting to pay the parking fee. At some point, years ago, after collaborating with neighbors, the hospital announced a free parking policy. All the lots and garage are now free to the public and employees.

    Under certain circumstances and with permission, the hospital allows neighbors to park over night in the garage and lots. St Francis employees and doctors contribute the proceeds of the employee picnic to Oakton School. This year it was just over $1500 and will be used for the edible garden. Many do not know but the hospital has a corporate daycare. 20 slots are subsidized and available for neighborhood children. Further, St Frances is one of Evanston’s largest property tax payers and employers.

    The hospital is not going to charge for parking and we are not going to collect a parking tax from them. I think we should make a greater effort to have Cook County repeal its parking tax. Each month the city collects and remits to the county a garage parking tax. September yielded $9,203.01.

    Sherman Avenue $3,777.84
    Maple Avenue $2,190.62
    Church St $3,234.55
    Sept 09 total $9,203.01

    Ann Rainey

  9. Time to lay off city employees
    St. Francis Hospital, a non-profit hospital, donates millions of dollars every year in charity. Evanston Hospital doesn’t even come close to that number.

    And the city has the gall and audacity to suggest that St. Francis executives end their free parking policy, which is part of the charitable spirit the hospital offers the community?

    With an $8 million gap in the budget, shouldn’t city officials consider that it might be time to permanently lay off city employees? Afterall, that is what most private businesses have been doing in order to survive during this severe Recession.

    Yet, how many city employees have lost their jobs in cutbacks?

    This suggestion of taxing St. Francis for parking tells me that city officals are still unwilling to make the really hard decisions that many organizations are facing, and that is firing employees, and cutting back on departmental budgets.

    Also, I can’t help to wonder if this has anything to do with the unions’ (AFSCME) successful effort to put on a city ballot a few years back a referendum to strip the non-profit status of St. Francis Hospital. The unions claimed that St. Francis did not give enough in charity and should not have non-profit status.

    Yes, this union along with the help of Democrat Congresswoman Jan Schakosky used strong-arm tactics to get the hospital chain to unionize by flexing its political muscle to take away it’s non-profit status, and attempting to force the hospital to pay WAY more in taxes.

    It didn’t work. Voters struck it down and the Resurrection Hospital system is still not unionized.

    I wonder if city officals simply don’t want to lay off city employees because of the political power the unions wield. I also wonder if our city leaders’ primary concern revolves around the interest of unions and not the interest of everyday, hardworking Evanstonians.

    I wonder where the breaking point is for Evanstonians.

  10. Clueless
    Aldermen (and specifically Alderman Burrus):

    You got elected to make tough choices. It is not a tough choice to think up ways for Evanston residents to cough up more money to the City.

    Cut City expenses. That’s what you need to do. Your suggestion seems to suggest that you are unwilling to do that.

    If you have already decided that you cannot cut City expenses, you do not belong on the City Council. I invite you to resign if this is the best that you can do.

    Show some fiscal restraint. Your allegiance to goofy schemes does not help the City or citizens’ confidence in you.

    1. Why do businesses leave/decide not to come
      Perhaps the Council will listen to those on the outside if they don’t believe the residents.
      A questionnaire sent to those businesses that left Evanston and those that decided not to come to Evanston, would be very revealing.
      I suspect anyone with common sense can guess, but still it would be interesting.
      A few years Sears considered Evanston—I suspect taxes and the Council’s perpetual ‘decision making’ killed that. [Perhaps the Council even was wanting a ‘nuclear free zone’ in their store like they debated forever with the Research Park.]
      We can debate forever questions about the budget, but if we don’t get business that employees residents [and yes including manufacturing] back and provide shopping for residents [instead of sending them to Chicago and Skokie] the efforts will probably be short-term at best. Evanston can not hope to be a ‘bedroom community’ and survive. The city plan has been un-focused [wanting to be a bedroom community, retirement, integrated, college, mixed-income, young professional and a miriad of other things] and apparently not doing any well enough to keep residents happy. Take away NU and Evanston Hospital and what do you have ?
      A survey of past residents would also be interesting—but I doubt they would respond.
      I was told, years ago, by an Evanston resident who lived here in the 1910’s [and did until he died] that Evanston then was the Winnetka of its day but that crime and other things kept pushing that life further north.

  11. FREE parking?
    Let’s get this straight…. parking for most who work, shop or play in Evanston comes at a cost and now the committee is looking at charging St. Francis Hospital for parking. One question – Do employees who work at City Hall -from the office employee to our mayor to our very own parking committee- get FREE parking at 2100 Ridge?????

    Imagine what a source of income we’ve missed!

  12. Parking at st. francis
    i agree with many of the commenters that the city should first look to cutting costs, and as a last resort to raising taxes. the elephant in the room, as several of you pointed out, is our unionized city employees.

    perhaps it is time for the city to, as one of you put it, show some spine and take on the union. as alderman rainey so aptly said, st. francis has been a wonderful neighbor to evanston and her ward especially.

    they have foregone the revenue they could be earning on parking fees to lighten the burden of cars in the 8th ward neighborhood around the hospital.

    and just an addendum to the writer who commented on afscme’s campaign a few years ago: late at night on the usa channel, afscme is running an ad that states that st. francis hospital has a shortage of nurses and is not accredited. both those statements are false.

    afscme wants to organize resurrection health care because they have 11 thousand employees. interesting that they have not targeted northshore university health system.

    stay tuned for some serious national and local fall-out on this ad campaign. and finally, the argument against charging for parking at the morton civic center is the same as at st. francis: it spares the neighborhood an inundation of cars who want to avoid the fee.

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