Five things to know about Evanston’s proposed 2023 budget


Daily file illustration by Olivia Abeyta

City Council approved the budget for fiscal year 2023 on Dec. 12, adding several amendments to funnel additional funding into funds such as the Reparations Fund.

Chiara Kim, Assistant Social Media Editor

Evanston’s proposed 2023 budget targets post-pandemic economic recovery, addresses  sustainability efforts and creates new government positions. It totals to about $402.5 million –– a $42.1 million increase from the adopted 2022 budget –– and is unpopular with the mayor and other public figures. 

The Daily broke down five things to know about the proposed budget.

1. The budget no longer contains a property tax increase, but other areas will experience rate increases 

City staff removed a proposed 4% property tax increase originally introduced in the Oct. 10 proposed budget. In a series of ward meetings Tuesday, councilmembers explained the hike is no longer necessary. The change also came after residents at an Oct. 18 City Council meeting expressed concerns that the hike would increase the cost of living. 

Hitesh Desai, Evanston’s chief financial officer and city treasurer, told The Daily the city expects to see vacancies in positions like police officers. Instead of filling these positions, the city will replace the property tax hike with the missing salaries.

The budget will also include a 5% increase to the water rate that will fund the city’s Lead Service Line Replacement Work Force Development Program and a 1.8% increase in solid waste fees. 

According to Ald. Devon Reid (8th), these increases are necessary to complete a state-mandated replacement of lead drinking water pipes and to protect community health.

2. Budget priorities include sustainability, with an eye toward implementing Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan

City Council approved CARP in 2018 to lower carbon emissions by 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2050. The adopted 2022 budget formed the Sustainability Fund, and the proposed 2023 budget will increase the fund to $808,893.

The proposed budget also adds two new positions to advance CARP: a resilient building specialist and a community outreach specialist.

The budget will launch the installation of solar energy at several municipal buildings, among other initiatives, according to Cara Pratt, Evanston’s sustainability and resilience coordinator, who presented CARP’s 2023 goals at the Oct. 24 City Council meeting. The city is also implementing a plastic bag tax.

3. The budget includes about $103.2 million toward the Capital Improvement Plan, which draws money from 10 funds 

This plan will fund civic projects like animal shelter renovations, park and sidewalk improvements and traffic calming measures. These improvements are part of a five-year CIP through 2027, currently set to cost about $401.4 million.

The program’s total cost is a $39 million increase from last year’s budget. The city is focusing on addressing infrastructure issues, including city park and facility deterioration and lead pipe replacement. 

Funding for this plan primarily comes from general obligation bonds, municipal bonds backed by the issuing jurisdiction’s credit and taxing power. It’ll also pull from the Water Fund and Sewer Fund, both paid for by residents.

4. Proposed expenses include 39 new city employee positions

The budget includes 22.5 staff positions in the General Fund, the city’s main operating fund, and 16.5 positions in other city funds — restoring certain positions cut because of the pandemic. Half positions represent half-time employees. 

The proposed budget includes hiring an HR recruitment/retention specialist, seven firefighters to support a third ambulance and a workforce development coordinator. 

5. American Rescue Plan Act funding is allocated in the proposed budget 

Evanston received about $43 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to spend between 2021 and 2022. Of the $43 million, $33 million has been allocated, leaving $10 million. The funds provide state and local governments with resources to address COVID-19 recovery. 

The city proposed $22.8 million in ARPA funding expenditures for 2023, a decrease by about $7.7 million from last year.

The city will use next year’s ARPA money to fund a community violence intervention program, a guaranteed income program and allocate $3.5 million toward participatory budgeting, a process in which Evanston residents have a role in deciding how the budget is spent. 

The budget also recommends allocating $4.6 million in excess funds from the General Fund to balance the 2023 budget which would ensure Evanston’s expenses are equal to its revenue next year.

Mayor Daniel Biss said in an Oct. 17 City Council meeting that using ARPA funds to balance the budget is inefficient. Reid also said he doesn’t think City Council has allocated ARPA funding thoughtfully, but he said he’s excited about funding participatory budgeting because the community will have a say in the budget planning.

“The community will directly vote on how $3 million of those funds will be spent,” Reid told The Daily. “Folks, I believe, as young as somewhere between 14 and 16 will be able to vote, folks who are undocumented.”

There will be a budget town hall Thursday at 6 p.m. and a special City Council meeting to discuss the budget on Monday. The budget adoption target date is Nov. 21, and the budget approval deadline is Dec. 31.

Email [email protected]

Twitter: @chiarafkim

Related Stories: 

City Council discusses proposed 2023 budget, pension debt 

City announces proposed 2023 budget, projecting a $42.1 million increase 

Sustainability coordinator shares CARP progress, shortcomings at City Council meeting