Compared to two nearby municipalities of similar size, Evanston spends nearly 18 percent more per capita for an equivalent set of city services.

If you’re planning to go to Saturday’s city budget workshop, you might want to keep that thought in mind.

Evanston Now dug through budget documents from Arlington Heights and Skokie as well as Evanston to reach that conclusion.

If you just looked at the bottom line of each budget, you’d think the disparity was much greater.

Evanston’s budget called for spending $203 million this year compared to $132 million in Arlington Heights and $118 million in Skokie.

That’s almost 63 percent more spending by Evanston than the average of the other two towns.

But Evanston provides library and park services that are provided by separate taxing districts in the other communities.

And Evanston generates revenue and incurs expenses selling water to other towns — something the others don’t do.

And Evanston has three big parking garages that both generate revenue and incur expenses that the other towns don’t.

Exclude all those factors and you’re left with a budget for Evanston across a comparable set of city services of about $163 million.

Divide the spending by the population of each community — listed in the latest Census Bureau data as 77,693 for Evanston, 73,399 for Arlington Heights and 66,620 for Skokie and you get the per capita figures.

They work out to $2,099 for Evanston, $1,799 for Arlington Heights and $1,767 for Skokie.

Where to find the documents

If you’d like to compare Evanston’s city budget to that of Arlington Heights and Skokie yourself, here’s where to find each community’s budget documents online.

  • Evanston budget. Select the link that says 2009-10 Adopted Budget.
  • Arlington Heights budget. Select the link that says 2009-10 Budget.
  • Skokie budget. Use the six links to download different sections of the 2010 Budget.

Workshop details

The first in a series of four Evanston city budget workshops this month will start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave.

New City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says the city is facing an $8 million shortfall between projected revenue and spending — by far the biggest gap in recent years. More information about the workshops is available on the city’s website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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