Evanston’s mid-year finances: City have a stake in an entire football season in the Northwest

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Evanston’s budget officials are monitoring the progress of Northwestern University’s football season, but in a different way than an average sports fan.

Ryan Field is seen from Chancellor Street. The city stands to gain financially if Northwestern football games attract fans who buy tickets. (Roundtable file photo)

The city recorded no tax revenue for the sport until mid-2021, with COVID-19 practically underpinning the college’s basketball program earlier in the year.

Officials now have their eyes on the football season, “which we could use in a big way,” said Hitesh Desai, the city’s chief financial officer, providing a mid-year financial update to council members at the meeting. their September 13 meeting.

Overall, a number of the revenue streams the city depends on hold their own projections or exceed them, Desai and city budget coordinator Kate Lewis-Lakin reported in their report.

Revenue through June stood at $ 61.4 million, or 55% of the amount budgeted, officials said. Expenses, meanwhile, amounted to $ 55.3 million, roughly 50% of what was planned at mid-term.

A number of the city’s main sources of income show a high trend as of June 30, officials reported. State income tax, which the City has collected in advance, amounts to 86% of the budgeted amount; receipts from property transfer rights and building permits both amount to 77% of the budgeted amount; and an amusement tax, thanks to the addition of streaming services, which the City receives is at 174% of the budgeted figure of the civil servants.

Other revenues on track include sales taxes, liquor taxes and property taxes.

The main revenues, down on June 30, include municipal hotel tax, at 22% of the budgeted amount; 40% parking ticket revenue; the Evanston fuel tax at 42%; and the aforementioned sports competition tax, to zero due to Northwestern’s minimum basketball season in early 2021.

As fiscal year 2020 approached, officials had predicted that Welsh-Ryan Arena entertainment events would produce a $ 200,000 increase in new tax revenue for sports and entertainment.

Officials are planting to bolster the City’s Parking Fund, which continues to show low revenues from the City’s garages and meters.

The city is to receive $ 950,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for capital projects in the area, Lewis-Lakin told council members.

In addition, the city may be eligible to receive an additional $ 2.9 million from ARPA, the federal COVID-19 recovery assistance program, based on lost parking revenue in 2020, a- she declared.

Taking note of the parking numbers, Eighth Ward council member Devon Reid suggested officials could assess the city’s current parking model, which depends on revenue generated by law enforcement.

“We have seen both last year and this year parking fines and fuel tax funds take a hit,” he said. “And I think as we prepare for a cleaner environment with alternative modes of transportation, it’s time to start really looking five to ten years from now to see how we can start to wean ourselves off these sources of income. or find replacements for those sources of income, because I think what has happened in the last two years will be the future. ”

At the meeting, officials also released dates for the City’s 2022 budget calendar, targeting November 22 as the adoption date.

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