A new ordinance passed by City Council over the winter has resulted in a far rosier budgetary picture than expected as residents have flocked to City Hall to reserve pay the $100 that reserves a stretch of curb for moving vans. Already, as of April 1, parking reservations have blown past the $50,000 in revenue predicted at the time the ordinance passed.
The reason for the uptick appears to be a significant increase in residents moving out of Evanston in order to escape an increasing list of fees, fines, and taxes piled on an already weary population – such as the moving van fee itself. “I am happy to pay that one last fee,” said former resident Saul Previewsky, found in line with about a dozen other people waiting to get moving van permits. “And with so many people moving out now, you almost have to reserve space. There’s not much chance you can squeeze another van in without a reservation.”
City parking technology director Audrey Filch was giddy with excitement when presenting the latest collection numbers to City Council Monday night, April 1. “It’s not just the moving van fees,” she said. “When people move, they throw things away. And with the new fines for throwing away electronics – Cha-Ching!”
City Council recently passed an ordinance making it illegal to place certain electronic items in the trash. Fines can be issued, along with similar fines for overloading trash cans or placing inappropriate items in the recycling bins. Some moving detritus can be classified as yard waste, too, said Ms. Filch, leading to a whole other world of fine and fee possibilities. “We’re finding that in some instances, a single move can generate over $1,000 in fine and fee revenue!” exclaimed Ms. Filch.
She also said that yards tend to become overgrown as houses sit vacant allowing yet another opportunity for fines. “And these fines attach to the water bill,” added Ms. Filch. “They are going to get paid. There’s no way around it.”
Some members of Council, and some members of the public, seemed less enthusiastic than Ms. Filch about the revenue increases. “This means more and more people are moving out of town and leaving vacant homes behind,” said long time Evanston curmudgeon Simon Baden. “We might do all right in the short run, but next year we’re going to get hammered.”
Ms. Filch stared blankly in response, then said, “But the fees and fines are rolling in. They are rolling in, sir.”
“But next year,” Mr. Baden tried again.
“I repeat, this is good news. Fees are rolling in,” said Ms. Filch. She said that budget projects now have Evanston solidly in the black as of April 1, 2012.