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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The Daily Explains: What’s in Evanston’s proposed 2024 budget?

A photo of the exterior of the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.
Daily file photo by Jacob Wendler
Evanston City Council is set to vote on the 2024 proposed budget on Nov. 27.

City Council is scheduled to vote on the city’s fiscal year 2024 proposed budget on Nov. 27. Since the budget was published online Oct. 6, councilmembers and residents have raised concerns about various areas of the budget during discussions, town halls and public hearings. 

The proposed budget totals over $449 million, an increase of $51.8 million from its 2023 budget. Most of the increase stems from wage increases and funding for the Capital Improvement Program.

The Daily will provide an overview of some changes in the budget.

1. The water rate is increasing by 17.55% to cover the cost of replacing water mains and lead service lines. 

The city projects residents would pay about $70 more each year as a result of this increase. According to the city’s budget book, the cost of replacing water mains increased by 41% between 2019 and 2023. 

The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act requires the city to fully replace all lead water service lines. 

In addition to covering the actual replacement process, the city hopes to use some of its funds to pay for the Lead Service Line Replacement Workforce Development Program, which trains Evanston residents in replacing lead service lines and improving streets.

2. Property tax levies are increasing by 7.8%, which the city claims would cover 30% of wage increases approved in 2023. 

Based on 2022 rates, the budget projects residents living in a home worth $400,000 would pay approximately $130 more each year. 

Without the proposed increase, the city forecasts net deficits gradually increasing each year, from $5.45 million in 2023 to $17.31 million in 2027.

Evanston would receive 17 cents of every dollar paid in property taxes, while Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202 would collectively receive 67 cents. Remaining funds would be divided between the Evanston Public Library, Cook County and other taxing districts.

3. The council approved various contractual wage increases in 2023. These increases are the main cause of the larger budget. 

Police and firefighters have secured wage increases, as have members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and various non-union employees. 

Officials stated that these increases account for inflation and place employees’ salaries in line with those in comparable communities. 

The budget sets aside approximately $145 million for the General Fund. According to the proposed budget document, 61.8% of these funds would be used on salaries and benefits.

4. Almost $108 million would be set aside for the Capital Improvement Plan, which targets projects that rehabilitate or improve physical facilities and spaces. 

This amount is $15.9 million more than the amount set aside for the 2023 plan. 

The money would be distributed across ten funds, including the Capital Improvement Fund, which would receive approximately $33.4 million for capital projects intended to benefit the city as a whole. 

The Water Fund would receive approximately $61.5 million in funding. These funds encompass the Water Treatment Plant and Distribution Division, which oversees water mains, valves, fire hydrants and water service lines.

5. $1 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act are currently available for allocation.

Evanston received $43 million in summer 2021 through the act to aid in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The city would budget approximately $25 million in 2024 for various projects and facilities, including projects selected through participatory budgeting, Evanston Thrives and McGaw YMCA.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @edwardsimoncruz

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City Council discusses proposed 2024 budget, increased property tax levy

Evanston 2024 proposed city budget sees $51.8 million increase from 2023

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