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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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By the Numbers: Five graphs that explain Evanston’s 2024 budget

Illustration by Danny O’Grady
Work on Evanston’s 2024 budget began in June 2023 and culminated in a 508-page document outlining the city’s financial plan for 2024.

Evanston’s adopted 2024 budget, released in full on Jan. 1, includes several changes from the proposed budget that City Council approved on Dec. 11. A six-month budgeting process culminated in a 508-page document outlining the budget for 2024. 

The document outlines over $438 million in expenditures and over $415 million in revenue. 

To contextualize the document, The Daily broke down the 2024 budget into five charts: 

General fund status

Evanston’s general fund is the city’s largest budgeting source, accounting for 33% of its total budget. It includes funding for the operations of all city departments, from public works to health.

Both revenues and expenditures for the general fund have increased from last year’s budget, by 12.72% and 12.67% respectively. 

The data for 2023 and 2024 are the budgeted numbers — what city officials aimed to spend and not what the city ends up spending — which might explain the decrease in the net change. This likely explains the significant decrease in net change over the last two years because the deviation of the actual and budgeted values could have been the source of part of the surplus.


Illinois does not set debt limits for municipalities, but Evanston City Council limits itself to a maximum tax-supported general obligation (G.O.) debt of $155 million. G.O. debt comes from loans that city governments take out, promising to pay it back using their general funds, sometimes aided by raised taxes.

The amount of tax-supported G.O. debt for 2024 comes almost $30 million below the $155 million limit. The city also issues loans through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for water and sewer projects, paid off by water and sewer fees. This city’s total principal debt, as outlined in Evanston’s adopted budget released Jan. 1, is $208,340,511. This number, however, does not include debt the city owes to pay public safety pensions.

Capital improvement funding requests

The city received a total of $98,089,000 in requests from 14 sources for capital improvement projects.

Various programs and departments requested funding, including the: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Motor Fuel Tax (MFT), State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). The Water IEPA SRF requested the most funding: nearly $26.5 million, comprising 27% of the total.

Expenditures by expense type

City expenditures in the 2024 budget total over $438 million. These expenditures are separated into 10 categories. Salary and benefits as well as capital outlay are the largest expense type, taking up 33% and 24.5% of the budget respectively. Salaries and benefits pay Evanston city employees and capital outlay fund capital assets and infrastructure.

On the other hand, contingencies and community-sponsored organizations are the smallest, combining to total 0.5% of the city’s total expenditures.

Revenue by source

The city’s revenue totaled $415,125,508 and was broken down into 12 sources. This data is important to understand where the money Evanston allocated for 2024 is coming from.

However, there is an outlier value that needs to be considered. The “other revenue” category traditionally was one of the larger sources of revenue in previous years, but in 2022 the category actually lost over $8 million which skews the trend of it being an important component of city revenue. This has since been rectified as the “other revenue” category represented over $163 million of the total revenue in 2024.

You can view the full budget here on the city’s website.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that Evanston’s total debt at the start of 2024 is $208,340,511. That figure is the city’s total principal debt. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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