A revised 2023 budget proposal will be presented Monday, Nov. 21, to the Evanston City Council with the overall price tag reduced by about $12 million.
This third set of revisions is a result of increased tax revenue estimates (up a total of $750,000) as well as belt tightening on proposed projects, which puts the new budget proposal at $390,574,677.
- A $1 million contribution to the reparations program. This is a result of increased real estate transfer tax revenues, which will be transferred from the general fund to the reparations project, codifying the action taken by the City Council at its Nov. 14 meeting.
- A reduction of more than $11 million in the capital improvements projects, arrived at by prioritizing five criteria given to the City Manager by the council.
- An allocation of $200,000 for citywide training, outside consulting services and other items to begin addressing a recent report from the City of Evanston Black Employees Action Group. Its 39-page letter, report and action plan outlined more than 60 examples of alleged racial discrimination throughout the city’s 11 departments.
Questions yet to be resolved include:
- Gas and wheel taxes: The new proposal does not include a property tax increase but it still leaves up in the air the question of a possible 1 cent per gallon gasoline tax increase – currently it is at 5 cents – and a $5 increase in the wheel tax.
- Pension funding: How will the city fund the increases City Council has pushed for in the police and fire pension funds? The state requires all municipalities to fund public safety pensions at the 90% level by 2040. Evanston City Council members have made it clear they would like to move to a path of 100% funding. But that means annual pension contributions would be an additional $4.5 million.
- City fees: What other fees – such as water, garbage and recycling – will be hiked, if any?
- Wage increases: The proposal still includes a 4.5% wage increase for city employees. But as all the city’s union contracts are pending now, there could still be more of a wage increase depending on those negotiations.
To date, the city has taken public feedback via five ward meetings, two budget town halls, a Truth in Taxation hearing and a special City Council hearing. City staff has also received questions via an online budget survey and set up the email email@example.com for queries.
“We’re grateful for feedback and input from the community, the Mayor, and City Council as we move closer to finalizing and approving the FY2023 budget,” City Manager Luke Stowe said Friday.
Monday, Nov. 21, is the tentative date set to pass the 2023 budget proposal, but it was set as an aspirational date, Stowe said. And there is time built into the process to push the vote into December if necessary.