When Evanston vehicle owners pay their annual wheel tax later this year, part of the cost may help the city reach its climate goals.

At the April 11 City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting, Council Member Devon Reid, 8th Ward, proposed a $5 increase above the current $85 fee. The extra funds would support initiatives to lower the city’s carbon emissions, part of the Climate Action Resilience Plan.

“Vehicles are the second-largest contributor to Evanston’s carbon emissions,” said Reid, explaining the rationale for the proposal in a post on social media. “With that in mind increasing the wheel tax to account more fully for the environmental impact of vehicles we can raise additional funding to invest in affordable green transportation infrastructure.”

Reid later spoke on the topic at the May 9 City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.

“I think this is pretty big,” Reid said at the meeting. The increase “will add somewhere between $200,000 to $250,000 a year to our Climate Action Resilience Plan. I think this will be the first dedicated revenue to that fund.”

He spoke in support of a plan that city staff members drew up out of concern that a one-time $5 increase could cause a burden for low-income residents.

Officials proposed the city increase the wheel tax $1 per year for the next five years, “phasing in the rate changes while still making a positive impact on sustainability goals,” wrote Lukasz Tatara, the city’s acting parking manager, in a memo.

In addition, city staff proposed waiving a $20 additional penalty if the citation is not paid after 10 days of issuance.

“So basically what we’re trying to achieve is compliance,” Michael Rivera, the city’s interim Administrative Services Director, told committee members. “We want to be able to put everybody in a situation where they can be compliant.”

Committee members voted unanimously for the proposed changes, sending the proposal to the City Council.

Council members are expected to vote on the issue at their May 23 meeting.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

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