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

The Daily Northwestern

66° Evanston, IL
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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Increased taxes may affect off-campus living

A recent Evanston City Council vote to increase gasoline and utilities taxes will likely affect Northwestern students living off campus and Evanston residents.

The increases will go into effect in 2011, Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) said. The electric utility tax was last increased in 1998 and will increase to an average of 6.66 percent, bringing in about $83,000 to the city in annual revenue, according to minutes from the Nov. 8 council meeting. The gas tax will be raised from 3 cents to 4 cents per gallon, which would raise about $142,000 for the city.

McCormick junior David Jin said students should be ready to pay more to live off campus.

“If you’re choosing to live off campus, you know costs will be high, especially for utilities,” he said.

Evanston’s $3 million budget deficit and financial trouble are causes of the increased taxes, Burrus said. The city has funded only 42 percent of its pension liability, she said.

“The city is in a financially terrible spot,” Burrus said. “We’re trying to make up a huge budget deficit.”

Burrus said the increased tax is akin to a “sin tax” on cigarettes or alcohol, in that the increased tax will discourage use of the commodity. She said she hopes the taxes will encourage residents to decrease their energy use and drive less, helping the environment.

“We’re trying to make up a huge budget deficit.”

-Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th)

Burrus’s hope for the tax increase’s effect might be realized. For students with cars, such as Jin, the gasoline tax increase could mean a change in driving habits.

“Gas prices are something I’m aware of and keep track of,” Jin said. “This is something I will adjust my budget for.”

Jin lives in the Park Evanston, 1630 Chicago Ave., and said he uses his car every day, spending about $10 a week on gas.

Weinberg senior David Cao, who said he drives into Chicago often, spends $9 per month on utilities in his Park Evanston apartment and $50 per week on gasoline for his car.

“It doesn’t seem like that big of an increase,” Cao said. “It won’t affect me that much.”

Students living in large houses with many roommates may also feel a lower impact of the utilities tax increase.

McCormick junior Oliver Williams, who lives in a large house on Garnett Place, divides the costs of living with nine roommates. Williams pays about $50 per month for utilities and $700 per month in rent, he said.

“In relation to rent, utilities are pretty low, especially when you’re splitting the bill with nine other people,” Williams said. “It’s not something that sticks in my head.”

The tax increases have not affected Williams’s plans for next year. He has already put a deposit down on a house, he said.

“When you’re looking for a house, you worry about the rent,” he said. “The rent is so big compared to utilities.”

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Increased taxes may affect off-campus living