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Doing More With More – The Key to Evanston's Success

Since its origins in the mid 19th century as a settlement surrounding Northwestern University, the City of Evanston has grown to be a thriving and prosperous community of 75,000 residents on Lake Michigan's North Shore, 13 miles north of downtown Chicago. Its varied and handsome architecture earned it the nickname "the City of Homes" and, to this day, some residents affectionately refer to it as "Heavenston".

Accurate Revenue + Equitable Collection = Good Government in Evanston

Upon the celebration of the 150th anniversary of its incorporation, local government officials and city managers have reaffirmed their determination to maximize their revenues, enabling them to carry on providing essential services to the community without increasing taxes on residents and businesses:

"As we work to re-invent ourselves, cities are supposed to do more with less. Forget about that… I am a proponent of doing more with more!"

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, 2013 State of the City Address 

The City of Evanston recognizes that accurate and equitable tax collection across all taxpayers is the cornerstone of a fair and responsible tax administration. Moreover, it understands that the key to survival in a tough economy involves taking a resourceful approach and working collaboratively with taxpayers to ensure that it receives every penny it is due.

Thanks to its continued financial stability, in 2012 the City of Evanston retained its AAA rating with the credit agencies Moody's and Fitch Ratings – the highest level awarded by those agencies.

Problem: When Revenues Fail to Keep Pace With New Developments

While its situation surrounded by other communities meant that its boundaries remained constant, Evanston was undergoing significant new building development, particularly in its downtown district, and officials were concerned that they were not receiving all the taxes and fees required by local ordinances.

After hearing about the excellent results that neighboring community Des Plaines had achieved by working with Azavar Government Solutions, the previous Mayor Lorraine Morton approached us to carry out a comprehensive review of Evanston's utility franchises and taxes as well as its cable franchise – the start of our productive and longstanding relationship with the City.

Azavar Government Solutions Steps in to Stop the Leaks

Azavar Government Solutions' team needed to work to a deadline because of conditions imposed by a statute of limitations. We meticulously analyzed receipts from several large and diverse taxpayers and used proprietary software to audit the accuracy of the address records in utility providers' databases. Our analysis produced immediate results, and we were able to identify and collect past due telecommunications franchise fees and taxes to the City in excess of $172,000, and over $14,000 in unpaid cable franchise fees.

Maximizing Evanston's Future Revenues

Azavar Government Solutions not only returned past due monies to the City, but also corrected errors so that it can collect more accurate revenue in years to come. While Evanston's situation as a landlocked community means that its city boundaries do not change, its local government officials were concerned that tax and franchise fee income did not reflect new building in the downtown area.

Our team discovered a high-rise development whose addresses had been miscoded in utility taxpayer databases, and whose taxes were being remitted to the wrong authority or not being collected at all. We were able to rectify these errors, recoup unpaid taxes, and ensured that this revenue will be accurately assessed and properly remitted in future, thus adding more than $26,300 per year to the City's rolls.

Helping Evanston Prepare for a Bright Tomorrow

The City of Evanston takes an innovative approach to solving the financial problems that beset every municipality, focusing on economic development, attracting new business, educating its workforce for jobs in the 21st century, developing affordable housing, and reducing its carbon footprint. By recovering a total of $172,453 for the City in the first year, and ensuring collection of $26,300 in each subsequent year, Azavar Government Solutions helps Evanston realize its ambitions for a bright and prosperous future.

"It had been a terrific experience from the very first when I coordinated your part in helping Evanston collect missed revenue...  Thanks for your patience in teaching me what your firm does."

Philip Baugher, Administrative Services, City of Evanston

On Enhancing Future As Well As Past Revenues

“Our community will continue to benefit in the years to come from the ongoing revenues that were uncovered by Azavar Government Solutions' investigation.” 
— John Thorson, City of Rock Island
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