A few years into the recent development boom, City Council members and other Evanstonians began muttering about the toll that development takes on the City’s infrastructure and services. While some aldermen floated the idea of imposing fees upon developers to offset the wear and tear on the infrastructure, others said they feared the added fees would make Evanston less attractive.

Now, with smaller developments and rehabs underway throughout the City and the possibility of another high-rise in downtown Evanston, Council members may consider asking developers to pay a little more for the privilege of doing business in Evanston.

For the past several months the consulting firm TischlerBise has studied several of the City’s infrastructure costs, with an eye to helping the City consider what additional fees and taxes it should charge developers of property in Evanston.

Looking at the stress that additional development would put on the water and street systems and on the parks and libraries, TischlerBise concluded the City could implement three additional charges: water capacity fees, impact fees for the libraries and parks, and street excise taxes. Each of these charges would represent the new development’s “fair share” of the capital outlay for the structures. TischlerBise representatives said they calculated the maximum allowable rate; the City could charge a lower amount.

Water Capacity Fees

The proposed water capacity fees would be based on the City’s water costs and would designate either the developer’s share of the present capital facilities (cost-recovery method) or its share of facilities that are already planned but not yet built (plan-base method). The fee charged would depend on the size of a water meter installed at a new development. For a three-quarter-inch meter, which is standard for a new single-family detached unit, the proposed fee is $1,331, according to TischlerBise’s Water Capacity Fee Study for the City of Evanston. The fees increase according to the meter size, also termed “displacement.” A 1-inch displacement would generate $2,261, while an 8-inch turbine would demand a charge of $80,081, according to the study.

Impact Fees

Impact fees are “one-time payments used to construct system improvements needed to accommodate new development,” according to TischlerBise’s Impact Fee Study for Parks and Libraries for the City of Evanston. The firm calculated fees that would help raise “funds to meet the demands for [parks and libraries] generated by new development in Evanston.”

The firm’s estimate of the maximum allowable parks and library impact fees are $4,364 for a single-family detached home ($3,516 for parks and recreation and $848 for libraries); $3,680 for each unit in a townhome development of 2-9 units ($2,965 for parks and recreation and $715 for libraries). The per-unit fee for developments of 10 or more units would be $2,384 ($1,921 for parks and recreation and $463 for libraries).

Street Excise Tax

Unlike the impact and water capacity charges, a street impact tax is a “revenue-raising measure,” according to TischlerBise. “A development excise tax can be defined as a tax levied against a developer to generate revenue to fund capital improvements,” according to the TischlerBise’s Street Excise Tax Study prepared for the City. TischlerBise said it based its tax schedule on “two main components of the City’s capital improvement program: the five-year streets improvement program and the five-year streets preventive maintenance program. The excise tax proposed by the consultants is $2.65 per square foot, ranging from a minimum $2,650 for a 1,000-square-foot house to $10,600 for a house with 4,000 or more square feet.

The Administration and Public Works Committee may discuss the reports and the fee proposals this summer. Any fees recommended by the committee would have to be approved by City Council.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...