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Evanston Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski on Oct. 11 released the City’s 2022 Proposed Budget, which prioritizes community recovery, economic development and restoration of city operations and services amid continued challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommended budget is subject to review and approval by the City Council, which will first discuss the proposal at a special meeting on Oct. 18.
The total proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Budget is $355,728,116, which includes all funds and interfund transfer expenses. This represents a $59 million increase from the 2021 Adopted Budget, largely attributable to the addition of $30 million in expenses for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund. The General Fund has a baseline budget deficit of $2.5 million, with $112,736,287 in projected revenues and $115,235,930 in expenditures.
“The last 18 months have been among the toughest ever for local governments and the communities they serve,” said Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski. “As the City begins to see recovery from the substantial revenue losses experienced during 2020, I am proud to present a budget that emphasizes a continued strong response to COVID-19 and provides support to those most negatively impacted by the pandemic. The proposed budget also aims to restore city operations and staffing to pre-pandemic levels to meet the evolving needs of all those who live in, work in, or visit Evanston.”
2021 budget update
In 2021, the city has so far seen higher-than-expected revenue as economic activity continues to recover from the pandemic. State income tax, building permits, real estate transfer tax, sales tax and state use tax all show higher-than-budgeted revenue through mid-year 2021. Overall, the City expects to end the year with General Fund expenses at budget and revenues exceeding budget, generating a $2 million surplus.
2022 Proposed Budget
In 2022, the City projects continued increases to income tax, sales tax, use tax and amusement tax revenues as the economy recovers. Based on feedback received from City Council, the 2022 Proposed Budget does not include an increase in the City’s net property tax levy. Overall, General Fund revenue in 2022 is projected to increase by $1.7 million compared to the 2021 Adopted Budget.
General Fund expenses are projected to increase by $4.2 million compared to the 2021 Adopted Budget. This includes general wage increases for all union and non-union employees, and reinstating the 29 positions held vacant in the 2021 Adopted Budget, as these positions were determined to be critical to city operations. To solve the projected 2022 baseline budget deficit of $2.5 million, staff recommends use of $1 million in fund balance and $1.5 million in funding through ARPA for COVID-19-related revenue loss experienced by local governments.
Additional ARPA funding proposals
The 2022 Proposed Budget also includes additional requests that would require funding not included in the baseline budget, including implementation of free beach admission for Evanston residents on all days and continuation of current crossing guard operations as funded by the City. The proposal also includes $2 million in funding for 20 additional City staff positions to improve City operations and services. Staff proposes that these additional requests be funded in 2022 through ARPA revenue loss funding, with long-term plans to fund these positions through new or increased revenue sources.
Other uses of ARPA funding included in the 2022 Proposed Budget are $1.6 million for equipment replacement and $2.3 million to the city’s Parking Fund to make up for revenue loss. Spending through ARPA on economic development, social services, and additional program areas was discussed at a special City Council meeting on October 4, 2021. City Council will continue to hold public meetings to determine specific spending priorities for ARPA funding that support community recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 Proposed Budget allows for up to $25 million in additional spending on ARPA priorities outside of city operations.
Proposed changes to water and sewer rates
The 2022 Proposed Budget includes a 5% decrease to the sewer rate and a 9.53% increase to the water rate resulting in a 1.96% combined rate increase, which amounts to $10.32 more per year for an average Evanston resident. This would be the first increase to the combined water and sewer rate for Evanston residents since 2015. In addition, the proposed budget includes a reduced water and sewer rate for community members who qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
The 2022 Proposed Budget also includes $65 million in total Capital Improvements expenses.
About the budget
The annual budget is a policy document that sets the financial course for the City of Evanston and defines the service priorities provided to the community. It is the culmination of months of effort by the entire City staff, as well as residents, to balance available resources with the actual and desired services required by Evanston residents, businesses and visitors.
The online 2022 Proposed Budget document can be found at cityofevanston.org/budget. New this year is the use of ClearGov software for a digital budget book, which is optimized for online viewing. Printed copies of the Proposed Budget will be available at the Main Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., and the Robert Crown Library Branch, 1801 Main St., during their operating hours.
The City of Evanston’s 2022 Proposed Budget will be formally presented to the Evanston City Council on Monday, October 18. Residents are also invited to participate in a public hearing on the budget on Monday, October 25. Both meetings will be held in a hybrid virtual/in-person format.
Residents are encouraged to provide their input on the 2022 Proposed Budget through any of the following channels:
- Online: cityofevanston.org/budget
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail: City Manager’s Office, 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL 60201
- Phone/Text: 847-448-4311
- Facebook: facebook.com/cityofevanston
- Twitter: twitter.com/cityofevanston
For more information about the 2022 Proposed Budget, visit cityofevanston.org/budget or call/text 847-448-4311.