Council to vote on sales tax, discuss the hiring of a city manager search firm


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

City Council members engage in discussion. Council is slated to vote on a potential sales tax increase.

Samantha Handler, City Editor

Aldermen at tomorrow’s City Council meeting will vote on increasing Evanston’s sales tax to 1.25 percent and will consider approving a contract with a firm to conduct the search for a new city manager. 

City staff recommends that aldermen approve raising the municipal retailer’s occupation tax rate from 1 percent to 1.25 percent in 2020. According to city documents, the additional revenue would go to the city’s general fund, adding $1.5 million in revenue. 

The tax affects businesses selling retail. Most food sold at grocery stores, medical appliances, vehicles and other items taxed at different rates would not be affected by the increase. 

City documents state that the current total sales tax rate in Evanston is 10 percent on general merchandise, which includes items like food purchased at a restaurant. Out of the total 10 percent, 6.25 percent goes to Illinois, 1.75 percent goes to Cook County, 1 percent goes to the Regional Transit Authority and 1 percent goes to Evanston. If aldermen vote to increase the municipal rate, the total would go up to 10.25 percent. 

Other municipalities, including Skokie, Chicago and Niles also have a total sales tax rate of 10.25 percent.

For the new tax rate to go into effect, the city must approve the ordinance and file it with the Illinois Department of Revenue by Oct. 1.

At the Sept. 9 City Council meeting, Evanston Chamber of Commerce member Nasuta Mabwa said 72 percent of businesses were against the proposal, according to a survey the chamber conducted. 

“From the retailer’s perspective, it’s just one more thing that makes shopping in Evanston more expensive,” Evanston Chamber of Commerce president Roger Sosa said to The Chicago Tribune. “That’s how they look at it.” 

Alds. Judy Fiske (1st) and Tom Suffredin (6th) previously voted against the motion to introduce the proposal. 

Council at tomorrow’s meeting will also discuss approving a contract with the firm GovHR USA to conduct the search for Evanston’s new city manager. 

City staff recommends allocating $23,500 for the Human Resource Recruitment budget, which has a current budget of around $20,000, according to city documents. GovHR USA is an executive recruiting firm that provides interim staffing solutions and human resource consulting to nonprofits and local governments. The company is based out of Northbrook, Illinois.

Council will also authorize an employment contract with Interim City Manager Erika Storlie. Mayor Steve Hagerty said residents will have a part in the recruitment process, and there will be a community-wide panel with the final candidates. 

“Once a search firm has been hired, we will begin a process of seeking community dialogue, obtaining input on what skills, experience and traits residents would like to see in the next city  manager,” Hagerty said at the Sept. 9 meeting.

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