Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City squeezes funds to keep trees

Evanston City Council voted to increase the tax on prepared food and beverages by 1 percent at a budget review meeting Monday evening.

After gathering to listen to residents comment on the proposed 2008 – 2009 budget, Council discussed the food and beverage tax as a means of increasing revenue to continue services for residents.

“You can hear tonight what the demands of our citizens are: they want services,” said Ald. Ann Rainey (8th). “I think they’re willing to pay for some of those services if they make sense.”

The tax, which does not include alcoholic beverages, will generate about $849,000 per year, according to City Manager Julia Carroll. This money will allow the city to lessen the estimated property tax increase of 15.15 percent.

The tax could also help the Evanston elm tree preservation program, which might be terminated to generate revenue. Rainey said the council had promised to fund injections to sustain the life of the trees, but could not due to budget problems.

Most of the citizens who spoke at Monday’s earlier public hearing expressed concern that the council might terminate preservation program.

Many residents argued that the intangible value of the city’s elm trees outweighs any fiscal cost to the city, and asked the council to look elsewhere for budget reductions.

The cost “is nothing compared to the emotional loss that I think people experience when a beautiful old elm tree has been lost on their city block,” said Nancy Smith, whose street recently lost an elm.

Other residents said the city will lose money by cutting the program through tree-removal and replacement costs.

Resident Leigh MacIsaac, for example, said she plans to e-mail the aldermen a spreadsheet that shows the city profiting from continuing the program in two years. She said she collected information from the city and created the spreadsheet because she did not feel the data provided by Director of Parks and Forestry Doug Gaynor adequately explained the impact of cutting the program.

Several citizens suggested that the city should formally ask residents for contributions to prolong the program.

Barbara James felt so strongly about the community’s commitment towards its trees that she estimated 75 percent of Evanstonians would donate.

“We, the people, want our trees,” James said.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
City squeezes funds to keep trees